Opponents of the Lynn incinerator project have called for the plan to be scrapped once and for all, after ministers withdrew a £169 million grant to the scheme.
The fate of the Saddlebow proposal is now set to be determined at two crucial Norfolk County Council meetings next week.
But campaigners say the Government’s decision to withhold funding gives the authority an ideal opportunity to finally cancel the plan.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said yesterday: “They need to see the reality of the situation, not be bullied by officers and honour the pledges they made at the election.”
He said that 48 county councillors, enough for an overall majority of its membership, were elected on an anti-incinerator platform back in May.
And he added: “The electorate is angry enough at how this has been handled. I think they would not forgive councillors if they miss this opportunity.”
News of the Government’s decision emerged on Friday afternoon, just over a week before county councillors are given the chance to debate the future of the proposal.
Leader George Nobbs said the announcement had “clearly added a new dimension” to the debate and confirmed he had told officials to prepare reports on the financial consequences.
Those papers will be published ahead of the council’s meeting next Monday, October 28, and could potentially be made public as early as today.
But council officials have so far maintained that the plant would still save the county money compared with the cost of putting waste into landfill, regardless of whether the government credits were awarded or not.
And Mr Nobbs warned: “The council is still bound by the contract entered into by the previous administration.
“Make no mistake, which ever way you choose to look at it, this is more bad news from this government for Norfolk taxpayers.”
But Mr Bellingham rejected that claim and praised environment secretary Owen Paterson for making what he said was the right decision for the whole county, not just West Norfolk.
He said that both he and South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss had extensively lobbied Mr Paterson to persuade him to withdraw the money.
And he paid particular tribute to both the King’s Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN) campaign group and the Lynn News for their work against the proposal.
“They have given us the ammunition to persuade Owen Paterson to do this. It’s a tough decision, a brave decision.”
He added that he is also lobbying the Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government for help to meet the cost of pulling out of the deal, which are expected to be at least £20 million.
He said he would be calling for a loan to be made available, which could be repaid over several years, as well as technical expertise from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in an effort to find a long-term solution for how to dispose of Norfolk’s waste.
KLWIN vice-chairman Mike Knights also welcomed the government move, which he said had “dramatically reduced” the chances of the plant being built.
He said the decision fundamentally undermined the argument of a national and local need for the plant, which was presented at the public inquiry into the scheme earlier this year.
However, group officials say they remain cautious about the final outcome of next week’s debates and have called for residents to write to the council (see right) to urge them to cancel the contract with Cory Wheelabrator.
Mr Knights said: “It should be dead in the water”, but added that the biggest barrier now could be the attitudes of both officers and councillors whose divisions are outside West Norfolk.
On whether the council finally votes to halt the proposal, he said: “It’s going to be a tough call, I think.”