Consortium finally abandons King’s Lynn incinerator plan

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Developers have finally given up their bid to build a waste incinerator on the edge of Lynn after a five-year battle costing tens of millions of pounds of public money.

Although Norfolk County Council terminated its contract with Cory Wheelabrator last spring, the consortium only confirmed its decision to withdraw its application for the Saddlebow land on Thursday evening.

A spokesman declined to explain the reasons for the decision.

But a letter seen by the Lynn News suggests it is only in the last few weeks that the applicants were finally persuaded to end their bid for the Willows Business Park site.

In the document, senior planning manager Richard Wilkinson confirmed there was no longer a contractual obligation to build the plant and that the land remained in the county council’s ownership.

But he also refers to a “significant” policy decision taken last month that “no energy from waste facility will be built at the Willows Business Park.”

The council also ruled out incineration as an option for its future waste management needs.

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham paid tribute to those who had campaigned against the plan.

He said: “This really is now the end of the road in what has been a deeply unhappy saga. It’s a brilliant New Year present for the people of West Norfolk.

“What we must now do is all work together to find a sustainable way of dealing with Norfolk’s waste.”

Alexandra Kemp, ward county councillor for the site said: “This is a real victory for people power in West Norfolk and this Division can now breathe a collective sigh of relief.”

And Mike Knights, vice-chairman of King’s Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN), said: “I’m delighted. It shouldn’t have been necessary to fight for as long as we have, but I’m delighted we’ve finally got there.

“There’s a lot of people who have paid a very high price for this, not just in monetary terms but giving up their lives for this.”

The withdrawal of the application finally brings an end to a five-year fight which county council chiefs yesterday said had cost them around £40 million.

Most of that, around £33.7 million, has been paid by the county council to Cory Wheelabrator in compensation for the termination of the contract.

A council spokesman added that another £6 million had been spent on making the case to secure both the land and government waste infrastructure credits for the project, plus development of the contract. He said another £323,000 was spent on planning issues.

But environment consultant Richard Burton claimed the blame for the bills lies firmly with those within the county council who pushed the scheme forward.

He said: “County Hall must ensure this never happens again, and this requires an honest assessment of the root cause of the problem.”

However, Toby Coke, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport committee, said the move ended any “lingering uncertainty” over the site’s future.

He added: “This has been a long and costly episode for Norfolk, and we still have to find sustainable waste disposal solutions that do not involve incineration.

“For that reason the County Council will be retaining the land, but any other facility proposed for the site must be higher up the waste stream than incineration.”