INCINERATOR - It’s a judicial process not a piece of theatre
If planning inspector Elizabeth Hill was in any doubt about the strength of feeling against the Lynn incinerator before she opened the public inquiry, she won’t be now.
At the moment she invited questions from the floor during Tuesday’s opening session, she gave the hundreds inside the Corn Exchange an opportunity to make their feelings about the scheme that had brought them all there abundantly clear.
That was apart from a bit of light relief as the whereabouts of the clipboards people were asked to sign to register their attendance were questioned on several occasions.
Light relief aside, however, it only took a few moments before Ms Hill was being given a lesson in the extent of the mistrust felt in certain bodies by people in West Norfolk as a result of the very proposal that she now sits in judgement upon.
Several times she was forced to reassure members of the public that she was there to give everybody a fair hearing – a symptom of the long-held perception that this is a town, a borough, that has been ignored on this subject by those in power for so long.
Perhaps her pledge, in the face of repeated questioning on the subject, to consult the government department to which she will report her recommendation on whether they could force Norfolk County Council and Cory Wheelabrator to release an unedited version of the contract between them, may help to reassure at least some of the doubters.
Yet there were signs, too, that this is an inspector who won’t put up with any nonsense over the weeks ahead.
“I’m not influenced by applause. I’m influenced by evidence”, Ms Hill said as she delivered one of numerous rebukes to an audience keen to remind those on the stage exactly whose side they were on.
Ms Hill will hear much she will want to consider – and probably a lot that she won’t – over the coming weeks as she decides whether the will of the people, as demonstrated by those inside the two-thirds full theatre, will be heard or ignored.
One thing is certain right now, though. This writer does not envy her in her task.
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