Burner warning over Norfolk devolution proposal

Alexandra Kemp ENGANL00120131028142036
Alexandra Kemp ENGANL00120131028142036
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New measures may be needed to stop a project like the Lynn incinerator from being revived by a new devolved authority, county officials have suggested.

A public consultation on plans to set up a new combined authority for Norfolk and Suffolk, which would be headed by an elected mayor, is expected to be launched today.

But opponents of the deal are worried that the mayor’s powers could force controversial projects like the ill-fated Saddlebow scheme on communities that do not want them.

A report to be presented to Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport committee today will ask members to “consider whether, in relation to the devolution process, any actions are required to safeguard the County Council’s policy”.

Following the failure of the incinerator plan, the authority drew up a new policy, which specifically ruled out the technology as a means of dealing with the county’s waste.

And Alexandra Kemp, who represents the Clenchwarton and Lynn South division on Norfolk County Council and voted against the measures last week, said she feared the county would not be able to stop a development such as that under the current devolution scheme. She said: “There should be a safeguard in the deal.”

Four out of Norfolk’s seven district authorities, including Breckland and North Norfolk, voted against the devolution plan last week.

But West Norfolk Council joined both the county council and all the Suffolk authorities in backing the idea.

County council officials told the Lynn News yesterday that they expected the consultation to be launched today.

They said it had been delayed from earlier this week for logisitical reasons.

Once the consultation is complete, participating councils will then have to meet again before the end of October to make a final decision on whether they want to take part in the deal or not.

And Mark Pendlington, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, which has already backed the plans, insisted they represented a chance the counties can’t afford to turn down.

He said: “Make no mistake this is a terrific opportunity on offer for Norfolk and Suffolk, the detail of which has been worked on long and hard for over a year.

“We now think it’s time for everyone to hear more of that detail and to have their say because very many people and businesses stand to benefit from these exciting proposals.

“I for one and everyone in the LEP will be working extremely hard to convince people of the significant benefits to be had.

“I would also urge the government, who have given us great support in framing what, I believe, to be a very generous deal, to bear with us as we make this key decision locally.”

But Miss Kemp described the process as a “shambles” and insisted voters could not understand the need for a new tier of administration when existing authorities were having their funding cut.

She said: “It’s like building a banqueting hall for a coffee morning. There is nothing that authority can do that councils and LEPs can’t do by negotiation.”