King’s Lynn incinerator contract axe should not affect planning decision, county officials claim

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The move to terminate the Lynn incinerator contract does not necessarily mean that the controversial plant is not needed, Norfolk County Council officials have insisted.

The claim has been made in a new submission to the government department that will finally decide whether the Saddlebow scheme should proceed or not.

The move has angered critics of the plan, who have questioned why the county appears to be acting against the will of elected members, who decided to end the contract for the deal in the spring.

Butd County Hall officials say they have merely responded to the previous submissions of other parties.

More than a year has now passed since the end of the public inquiry into the proposal, and more than two months since the county authority voted to end its contract with Cory Wheelabrator.

But, despite that, groups both for and against the scheme are continuing to submit fresh material to the Department for Communities and Local Government, which will ultimately determine the fate of the scheme.

The latest letter, dated last Friday, follows an earlier submission by the West Norfolk Council, which argues that the decision to end to the contract, taken in April, should carry significant weight in the final planning decision.

Opponents of the development argue that the need for the plant is a key factor in planning policy guidelines and that the decision to end the contract, together with the use of alternative facilities already approved by the county council, plus alternative technologies, means the incinerator is not actually needed at all.

But Nick Johnson, the county council’s planning service manager, said: “In its submissions to date, the county council attributed little weight to the existence of the contract and it is our view that little weight should be attached to the absence of the contract.”

He also rejected borough council claims that the project was not financially viable, saying “no evidence” had been put forward to support the argument.

But West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney, whose authority wants to buy the land in order to prevent the incinerator being built regardless of the planning decision, said of the letter: “Why are you still trying to justify incineration? Your elected masters have dismissed it.”

A county council spokesman said yesterday: “The contract with Cory Wheelabrator has been terminated.

“We have given a technical planning response to the points raised, which are of course immaterial given that the contract no longer exists.”

But Mr Daubney said clear leadership is needed at County Hall and questioned whether it was councillors or officers who were running things.

He added: “For the sake of all the bridges we have got to build, we ought to be working together to put this behind us.

“If they don’t want this incinerator, which is what I understood the position to be, let’s have a clear statement.

“If they’re still trying to get planning permission, I’d like them to be honest and tell us why.”