Artful Codger - Sutton Bridge so near

While West Norfolk residents have been focusing their valiant efforts on resisting the Lynn incinerator abomination, they should also consider offering all possible support to their near (make that ‘very near’) neighbours at Sutton Bridge, who have similar concerns about the biomass burning plant proposed next to their village.

West Norfolk Council have been asked for their views on the biomass plant, and have requested more information on the project, billed as a “renewable energy park,” before deciding on the stance they will take on this issue.

Bearing in mind their own experiences so far with the incinerator project, one would hope the councillors will be scrutinising the whole issue in minute detail, especially as it is right on their border and could have environmental implications for a wide area of West Norfolk – Lynn itself is not very far away at all.

And not only are there environmental questions to be answered. The proposed facility has the capacity to handle around 350,000 tonnes of biomass material a year – which will surely place a huge strain on the creaking road infrastructure leading into Sutton Bridge from all directions, principally on the A17.

What kind of impact will this increased traffic have on the Victorian swing bridge at Sutton Bridge? Built in 1897, it has done yeoman service down the years, but could a steep rise in heavy lorry movements hasten the day when it needs replacement?

If the bridge reaches a point where it needs either imminent major works or replacement, it would cause huge inconvenience, not only to the biomass plant, but to all the businesses in Norfolk who rely on the A17 as their principal route to markets in the Midlands and North.

After all, the movement of 350,000 tonnes of biomass material a year would seem to involve an awful lot of lorry traffic for local residents to put up with. And of course that huge amount of biomass material is going to create vast quantities of ash, which will then have to be disposed of elsewhere – presumably using road transport.

Visiting the Biomass Energy Centre’s website, I was intrigued by the following statement: “In the context of biomass for energy, this is often used to mean plant-based material, but biomass can equally apply to both animal and vegetable-derived material.”

Really? So just what kind of animal and vegetable derived material, if any, is likely to find its way to the plant at Sutton Bridge? And if it is proposed to use this kind of material, then in what quantities will it be processed and what are the possible environmental consequences?

Or to put it in language we can all understand: Will they be bringing in rotting animal carcase remains and putrid vegetation, and will it be producing a gut-wrenching stench that could blight large areas of West Norfolk and South Lincolnshire?

South Holland District Council are the boys and girls with the final decision on this hot potato. West Norfolk Council should make sure their Lincolnshire cousins are well aware of local concerns. We are not going to be the region’s rubbish tip – Not Now, Not Ever.