Scrap it or we’ll pay the price, burner critics warn

Incinerator costings press conference held by Henry Bellingham MP, Liz Truss MP and Nick Daubney the Leader of the Council.

Incinerator costings press conference held by Henry Bellingham MP, Liz Truss MP and Nick Daubney the Leader of the Council.

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County council chiefs will pay tens of millions of pounds too much if they press ahead with the controversial Lynn incinerator project, a group of senior politicians has warned.

Leading critics of the Saddlebow scheme have released figures which they say show alternative waste management plans could save up to £147 million compared to the cost of pressing ahead.

The borough’s MPs, Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss, together with West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney, have renewed their call for the proposal to be scrapped.

Mr Daubney said on Friday: “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 up to £410 million to provide the 170,000 tonnes of domestic waste provided for in the county council’s contract with Anglo-American consortium 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.

That figure, which is based on three or four facilities being built across Norfolk, is also said to include the cost of paying compensation to the developers, estimated at between £26 million and £34 million, plus the loss of revenues 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.

Ms Truss said it was now clear the county council was paying “over the odds” for its deal compared with the national average for similar facilities and urged the authority to be “honest” over what it had signed up to.

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.”

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.

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 the autumn.

Mr Bellingham also dismissed the claims of county council officials 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 claim the authority has already set aside more than £23 million towards any payoff and reported having non-schools reserves of £94 million for the current financial year to the government.