The decision to sign the Lynn incinerator contract has been branded “disastrous” after it emerged government officials first raised concerns about the project four years ago.
The revelation is contained in a National Audit Office report, published today, Tuesday, June 17, which has criticised the “lack of clarity” surrounding the authority’s deal with Cory Wheelabrator.
The report said that, though the county was subject to stricter rules than other similar contracts, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was worried about the deal well before it was signed in 2012.
It reveals: “From 2010, the Department raised specific concerns with Norfolk that its proposed timetable might not be achievable.”
The report reveals that the grant of £91 million of PFI credits, withdrawn last October, was reviewed after a June 2013 deadline to secure planning permission was missed.
And DEFRA also questioned if the council had fully considered the consequences of not winning planning consent.
Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs said the report showed the previous Conservative administration should not have relied on government promises of financial support for the scheme.
He said: “It is now clear that the original decision to enter into the contract turned out to be disastrous.”
However, North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: “I think Norfolk does come out of it badly.”
He added that it “beggars belief” that officers are still writing to communities secretary Eric Pickles in support of planning permission, as reported in Friday’s Lynn News, despite the decision to end the contract.