New proposals that would see much of Norfolk’s waste burned in Dutch or German incinerators have been published today.
County council officials say the plan, which will be debated by a committee next week, would end the county’s use of landfill sites and save around £2 million a year.
But environmental campaigners say not enough progress is being made towards the use of cleaner technologies.
More than 18 months have now passed since the county council voted to end its contract to build an incinerator on the edge of King’s Lynn.
Since then, the council has completed a deal to send around 40,000 tonnes of waste a year to the Great Blakenham incinerator in Suffolk. That deal was extended earlier this year.
Now, officials say the remainder of the county’s waste, around 160,000 tonnes per year, should be processed locally to remove metals and metal aggregates for recycling, before being sent to incinerators in either Holland or Germany.
A recommendation to award a four-year contract to processing plants in Costessey, Rackheath and Wisbech will go before the county council’s environment, development and transport (EDT) committee this Friday.
Committee chairman Toby Coke said; “An end to using landfill in Norfolk has been a long held ambition for our county, so if councillors decide to give these contracts the green light, it will mark a big step forward in the way we deal with our waste.”
But Michael de Whalley, founder of King’s Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN), which led the fight against the incinerator, claimed the plan does not go far enough.
He said: “We don’t want to see waste burnt anywhere. I appreciate the short-term difficulties, but I’m not inspired by what’s happening at County Hall.
“We’re not getting to where we want to be or where Norfolk County Council has expressed the intention to be.”
Mr de Whalley also expressed concerns that the outcome of two forthcoming by-elections may see the Conservatives, who originally proposed the building of the Lynn incinerator, regain power.
However, council officials say the deals, which are worth £68 million in total and would begin next April if they are approved, would save the council around £2 million a year in management costs.
And Mr Coke said the deals were the “first phase” of delivering a more sustainable waste strategy.
He said: “These contracts will give us breathing space to study new technologies that are coming onto the market and to see if they can be used here in the future.”
He said waste companies had been asked to come up with proposals and consultations are expected to take place early in the new year.
But he added: “Side by side with this, it’s really important that we do all we possibly can, to increase recycling and reduce our left over waste, to keep our waste management costs down in the future
“We are working much harder together with all of Norfolk’s waste authorities to generate more recycling by getting it out of our residual waste bins.”