A group of senior West Norfolk politicians has this afternoon, Friday January 31, set out what they claim is a compelling financial case to axe the controversial Lynn incinerator project.
The borough’s MPs, Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss, alongside West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney, have published figures which they say show alternative waste management proposals could save up to £147 million compared to the cost of continuing with the Saddlebow plan.
Speaking at a briefing held at the borough council’s offices in Lynn, Mr Daubney said: “Now is the time for Norfolk County Council to stop the money clock ticking, put a stop to building this incinerator and end this disgraceful episode once and for all.”
The group claims it would cost the county up to £410 million to provide the 170,000 of domestic waste provided for in the county council’s contract with Cory Wheelabrator, based on an estimated rate, or gate fee, of £105 per tonne.
But they argue that the rival process proposed by Material Works, with whom the borough council has already signed a contract, would cost just £55 per tonne, equating to a saving of £147.2 million over 23 years of operation.
The figure also includes the cost of paying compensation to the developers, estimated at between £26 million and £34 million, plus the loss of revenues gained from any power generated by the plant.
They say that sending waste to a gasification plant at Huntingdon would cost just £63 per tonne, while a similar facility at Peterborough would be £75 per tonne.
And shipping waste to an incinerator in the Dutch capital Amsterdam, which was first proposed by a group of county councillors last October, would still save up to £30 per tonne compared to the cost of the incinerator.
Mr Bellingham said sending waste out of the county was not a sustainable option in the long term, but would give the county time to source suitable local technology.
Ms Truss said it was clear that the county council was paying “over the odds” for its deal with the Anglo-American consortium compared with the national average for similar facilities.
She added: “It would be better if Norfolk County Council decided to pay the compensation now rather than commit the county to paying a lot more over the next 23 years.”
The group also claimed the costs of the alternative schemes had not been made available to councillors when they narrowly voted to continue with the project in October, following the withdrawal of a £169 million government grant.
Mr Bellingham also dismissed claims that paying compensation, which the group claims equates to just two per cent of the county council’s annual budget, would risk bankrupting the authority as “scaremongering of the worst kind.”
They point out that the county council has reported having non-schools reserves of £94 million for the current financial year to the government.