Whitehall warned Norfolk over incinerator planning delays

The sun sets over Saddlebow, near the site where the King's Lynn Incinerator was planned. Picture: Matthew Usher. The sun sets over Saddlebow, near the site where the King's Lynn Incinerator was planned. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
7:40 AM

Norfolk County Council ignored Whitehall warnings there could be costly planning delays for the King’s Lynn incinerator, it has emerged in a government spending watchdog report.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

The National Audit Office said the Norfolk authority was challenged in 2010 over its compensation arrangements by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, but the council still decided to press ahead with a contract which has left Norfolk taxpayers footing a £33.7m bill.

The council voted in April to pull the plug on a contract with Cory Wheelabrator to build and run the £610m plant at Saddlebow in King’s Lynn, after officers said a delay in a decision from communities secretary Eric Pickles on whether it could go ahead meant it no longer offered value for money and the government pulled a grant worth £169m.

North-West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, who has been strongly opposed to the incinerator plans, said the “damning” report showed there was a “degree of arrogance” on the part of the council, which he claimed had thought it could just give the project planning permission without the decision being taken to central government.

But George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said Defra had approved the contract and awarded Norfolk PFI credits worth £169m in the full knowledge of the proposed timetable and the compensation arrangements.

“By anyone’s book, a two-year period for achieving planning permission should have been reasonable, and increasing
that timescale would have increased the price of the contract,” he said.

The National Audit Office report, which also examined incinerator projects in Surrey, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said: “In the light of its concerns about Norfolk’s proposed timetable for achieving planning permission, the department challenged Norfolk over whether it had fully considered the impact of not achieving planning permission on its proposed funding and compensation arrangements.

“Norfolk confirmed to the department that it had considered this and expected to achieve planning permission within the proposed timetable.

“On the basis that this risk was a matter for the council to judge, since it would bear the consequences, the department did not challenge this further.”

South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said: “I am concerned by this report and I believe that NCC officers need to present a clear account of what happened.

“Norfolk tax payers are having to foot the bill for this failed scheme; complete transparency needs to prevail and not be concealed behind corporate confidentiality.”

26 comments

  • The reason the GNobb hasn’t bl.amed officers is because he doesn’t bite the hand that feeds him. Publicly blaming Pickles and then asking the government for money was either inco.mpetence or a deliberate attempt to continue his political blackening by ensuring no financial support was forthcoming. He put the government in such a position that to have assisted financially in any way would have been seen as gu.ilt money, and off course Pickles isn’t gu.ilty of anything other than cautiously scrutinising the information, much of which has been submitted after the Inspector’s report, information NCC officers are still submitting after the contract has been ended. Who authorised that? It’s looking like CW’s new best friend the GNobb.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Honest John

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • The reason the GNobb hasn’t blamed officers is because he doesn’t bite the hand that feeds him. Publicly blaming Pickles and then asking the government for money was either incompetence or a deliberate attempt to continue his political blackening by ensuring no financial support was forthcoming. He put the government in such a position that to have assisted financially in any way would have been seen as guilt money, and off course Pickles isn’t guilty of anything other than cautiously scrutinising the information, much of which has been submitted after the Inspector’s report, information NCC officers are still submitting after the contract has been ended. Who authorised that? It’s looking like CW’s new best friend the GNobb.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Honest John

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • Joe Hull should not be director of anything until he comes clean over this debacle, he, just as his previous nemesis Mike Jackson have a lot to answer to Mr. Revell, as has our lawfull Ms McNeill. Whatever the Schicklgrubers of this world mumble into their beer kegs, any option chosen that does not reduce landfill will be going past the aims and objectives of this grandious excercise. Unless we reduce landfill taxes, by re-using the resources within landfill, we will just be treading water, whilst telling our children that all is well with their future. Just a few cheap Chinese nuclear reactors and their 1000 year glowing rubbish, we couldn't possibly be seen to build a Severn, Thames and Wash tidal energy scheme, will lighten up their future path. Gosh we are so clever here in Norfolk.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • George Nobbs is rughtly avoiding the easy option of blaming officers. They advise, but don't make decisions. The Tories ran NCC, and they signed the contract. George Nobbs is rightly cautious about rushing to judgements. He must be sure of the evidence and the complex legal position. And remember that it was Tory MPs who urged the Labour-led council to cancel the Tory-made contract, but then have been unable to persuade the Tory-led government to fund the multi-million pound penalty. Tory humbug!

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Peter Smith

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • CB I was looking at the transactor reports yesterday, have you noticed how many 'probable' there are? Delivery Confidence goes from Probable to Doubtful to Feasible, while Risk Management are Highly Likely - a day for laughing loudly!

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Honest John

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • Sorry for numerous posts but, as those who know me, are aware I am hardly at my desk anymore. On the back of this report I wonder if Joel Hull would change the speech he gave at the SMI 5th annual conference Sept 2012. I paste his slot- Paste starts- 2.50 CASE STUDY Norfolk Waste PFI: a residual waste treatment project case study • Using competitive dialogue for smarter procurement • Delivering an Energy From Waste project - achievements and lessons learnt • Looking to the future - challenges and opportunities Joel Hull, Project Director, Residual Waste Service, Norfolk County Council - End paste. I wonder if he told the conference that DEFRA had warned NCC of the likelyhood of delayed planning consent and the fact that a contract signed, by him, was highly unlikely to achieve planning consent within contracted deadlines.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • HJ I was just studying the Transactor Reports again. Interesting to see the only remaining names, others have deserted the sinking ship or been ousted by the electorate, from the original project board are Joel Hull & Adrian Tyas if the rumours that Mark Allen has gone are correct. Of course, although not mentioned by the Transactor, Victoria McNeill remains as well which is surprising considering she must know what very dodgy ground she is now on after the release of the very gently worded, but critical, NAO report. Negligence is clear from all involved and while not highlighting the issue the government have clearly decided they will not be covering up NCCs failures as Gnobbs and the internal scrutiny -laugh out loud- system at NCC does time after time after time.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • Dont be silly Mr S! You know as well as I do that the figure heads are only that, they just throw an idea up in the air pursuing their own ends, it is the staff under their control who actually do the ground work and keep the departments running. It amazes me that the ordinary man in the street does not realise that at government level the 'figureheads' are no more than a name. They do not get their hands dirty with actual work, the civil servants in office regardless of political leaders are the ones who do the work and keep the wheels rolling. Same applies at NCC the actual downtrodden workforce keep the departments running the 'figureheads' just create chaos be they politicians or officers.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • So many shout about people who should resign and stand down and leave office. What exactly do you think would happen if they all took that silly advice? An empty building and everything ground to a halt. Then you could all moan about something else. If you want to change things then get a job at the Council. They advertise every week. Or get elected. Vacant seats come up several times a year. Try it for size instead of moaning.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Mr A. Schicklgruber

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • If you can find a post where I hailed the GNobb as a saviour, then it would identify the day I must have taken large doses of mind altering substances. Yes, I voted for a local labour councillor, not only because he claimed to be against the incinerator, but also due to Labour’s manifesto pledge, which of course GNobbs immediately ren.eged on as soon as his finger went into the pie as Leader, and my councillor became an inve.rtebrate. I certainly didn’t want GNobbs as leader, it was known that he was operated by Murphy’s well-position finger, but the alternative of course was Mr Incinerator man himself, the hopeless Borat. GNobbs has been digging a very deep hole for himself for the last year and before too long his hole will join up with that of all the previous Conservative members and the officers he has tried so valiantly to protect. What goes round comes round, you should know that.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Honest John

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • The members still in office and the officers still employed responsible for taking a gamble with the public finances should now resign. They were warned by Whitehall, but as usual they thought they knew best. Only as fool would gamble with £33 million of the public's money. If this isn't gross misconduct then I don't know what is.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Bikerboy

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • Could this be the very same Mr Nobbs hailed by Honest John & Co after his election as their savior ? The same Mr Nobbs that the anti campaign claimed they wanted in power ? Careful what you wish for.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Mr A. Schicklgruber

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • The GNobb is still holding firm with bla.ming the Conservative administration rather than the officers, but he will have difficulty saving one of his many faces after this unless he does another of his famous u-turns. On the bright side, it's beginning to look like those hid.eous spikes in the Walks may have a use after all.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Honest John

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • On the Lynn News website, George Nobbs is presently quoted as saying "It is now clear that the original decision to enter into the contract turned out to be disastrous". Why can't he make up his mind?

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Nemesis

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • I think you are wrong, the EU are pushing for more recycling as we speak and any new incinerators will most lightly be outlawed. If it was ever built what would it burn? NCC have no contract and one wouldn't get through with this administration. If it's so safe it should be put where the most black bin waste is produced, Norwich!

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • It is not a 'failed scheme'. Only the current contract with NCC has been halted. The scheme is still going ahead and new submissions by the developers are being taken into account. This is still being built.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Del Boy

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • In a few years time the efforts of theTyndall Institute IPCC etc will be exposed as "bad science" and West Norfolk council will be reviled for their role, because we will all be desperate for energy. So whilst we will be assiduously recycling plastics and metal, we will be seeing recycling organic material as an expensive luxury and whacking it all into energy from waste plants rather than turn off our TVs and laptops.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • So is everyone entirely happy with the role of Defra in this? And speak for yourself Ingo, plenty of people think energy from waste is a dashed sight more sensible than sending it to Nigeria or Indonesia to sit in heaps or to pretending that it is not being burned already in cement works near Scunthorpe. I do not envy NCC at all, caught between two governments, told they had to find a solution and with Defra nodding and then kicking them in the teeth. If landfill was such a big problem under Labour and the EU, why did Defra do the turn around? Pretty sickening that a small percentage of the council tax payers in Norfolk used " localism" under the Tories to kick a waste management solution into touch at great expense to the rest of us.The motives of some of the leading anti campaigners might be seen in a different light if viewed alongside the planning envelopes in the area.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • None of these things happened in isolation. How could a politician know the ins and outs of a commercial contract? The Councillors were advised by officers of the council - paid employees. If they gave incorrect information or advice that was skewed towards a wanted result then they should be facing disciplinary proceedings, just as they would in a private company. If they gave impartial and clear guidance which included the dangers and warnings, the Councillors who ignored that advice should be named so the public can make an informed decision at the next local election. Bad decisions means bad judgement, so the persons responsible should be banned from public office for at least five years (company directors can be banned for gross misconduct in the running of their company, so why not elected officials?).

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • I can't believe people still think this isnt going ahead.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Piranha24

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • Officers arrogantly decided to proceed against advice from National Audit Office! Surely that makes them liable for the compensation, not the Norfolk tax-payer. However it seems they have walked away and are now planning the solar farm at Coltishall via Norfolk Energy Futures.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • Being an officer for NCC seems to be the safest job in the world - all of the fun of a roulette table at Monte Carlo and none of comeback should taxpayers money be put at risk. Anywhere else and those concerned would be facing disciplinary action for serious misconduct - but not here in sleepy old Norfolk it seems. GNobbs needs to stop defending the indefensible, grow a backbone and instigate proper proceedings against those officers who are clearly operating above and beyond their job descriptions, ignoring the will of Council and arrogantly doing their own thing for reasons best known to themselves.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Fenscape 2

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • party politics, as you say, parkeg1, has ruined democracy and made it the stuff of minorities. Where are the real Independents? should we stop elections and pull reps out of a hat? It would be refreshing to see normal people take the reign, rather than those cap duffing puppets.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • Well said John Martin, the catalogue of mistakes by officers and cllrs., to pursue their own solution, despite the evidence they had since 2006 that incineration was not popular with any of us in Norfolk. Officers and Cllrs. ignored the mandate they had since 2000, this has not changed and still we are barking up the same tree. Where are the alternative solutions to our full landfill sites, when are we going to reinstate them and what are we going to do with all the resources within them?

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • I still think party polotics should be band from local authorities, they alway cost us money whilst they play games with each other. Egotistical bunch of fools who are only interested in themselves and thier own image, not the type of person who I'd rely on to do the right thing for Norfolk. Sack them all and bring in some non political people who will do a much better job.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    parkeg1

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  • George Nobbs really should get his facts straight. The contract was entered into in February 2012. What the public did not know - though obviously the then Cabinet and the officers did - was that if planning permission had not been obtained by June 2013, Defra would be entitled to withdraw the waste infrastructure credits worth £169m. This is exactly what happened. So there was no two-year period within which to obtain planning permission, and every indication that the planning application would be called in by the Secretary of State so making it impossible to meet the timescale. There was gross negligence on the part of the members and officers in question. We are now paying the price for that. Let us hope that Stephen Revell damns them in his report.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    John Martin

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Homes24
Jobs24
Drive24
LocalSearch24
MyDate24
MyPhotos24
FamilyNotices24
Weddingsite

loading...

Classifieds, browse or search them online now

The Canary magazine
Order your copy of The Canary magazine

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT