Brexit ‘is good for us’, says King’s Lynn paper mill boss

Topping out ceremony at Palm Paper 
Derek Harman md businesses and administration and Dr Wolfgang Palm CEO of the Palm group
Topping out ceremony at Palm Paper Derek Harman md businesses and administration and Dr Wolfgang Palm CEO of the Palm group

The boss of Lynn’s Palm Paper factory has said Brexit will help the site to thrive, as a new £45 million power plant was unveiled there this week.

A topping-out ceremony was held on Tuesday morning for the new combined heat and power (CHP) facility, which is expected to begin operating early next year.

The project has been hailed as a vote of confidence in West Norfolk as a place to do business.

And Palm Group chief executive Dr Wolfgang Palm believes the plant’s fortunes will be further boosted by Britain leaving the European Union.

He stressed he was not commenting on the wider implications of the decision, which moved a step closer this week when MPs gave their initial backing to withdrawal legislation.

But he predicted the pound would continue to weaken against international currencies, helping to make the Lynn plant more competitive.

He said: “I’m extremely happy about Brexit, to be honest, if I just have a view of Palm Paper in King’s Lynn.

“Brexit will not harm us. It will support us. That’s my view.”

Plans for Palm Paper to build its own power plant first emerged five years ago, at the height of the storm over plans for a waste incinerator nearby.

The firm was seen as a potential customer for heat and power from the ill-fated project, but said it wanted to reduce its reliance on imported energy.

The new facility will use gas-and-steam turbines to generate all the electricity needed to power the factory’s production processes.

The company admits there will be a “slight” increase in emissions from the site when the new plant is operational.

But it claims that overall carbon dioxide emissions will fall by 100,000 tonnes a year, compared to those generated by importing energy from the grid.

A high-pressure gas pipeline and pressure reduction facility are also being built as part of the project.

Dr Palm also paid tribute to the “fantastic” team of workers at the plant, which will be increased by around five staff when the CHP plant opens, and the support of both the factory’s customers and local political leaders.

He said they were confident of the long-term demand for their products in Britain, despite falling consumption.

Borough mayor Carol Bower was among dozens of guests to attend the ceremony, which was followed by a tour of the site.

And borough councillor Nick Daubney paid tribute to the company, which he said had been a “force for good” for the area.

He said: “Palm is here to stay and thrive, and clearly to have that message reinforced by this huge commitment to the CHP plant during Brexit negotiations and a fast changing paper market is as stronger signal as it’s possible to get.”