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‘A dark day: Councillors, MPs and campaigners react to Wisbech incinerator being approved





After plans for a mega incinerator were officially given the green light yesterday, it was described as “a dark day” for the area.

Councillors, residents and campaigners across Cambridgeshire and Norfolk united in disappointment and “disgust” that the MMV Medworth proposals have been given permission by Claire Coutinho, the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Medworth CHP Ltd applied for planning permission to create an energy from waste combined heat and power facility, capable of generating over 50 megawatts of electricity, in July 2022.

Despite campaigners’ best efforts, the Wisbech incinerator has been approved. Picture: Garry Monger/WisWIN
Despite campaigners’ best efforts, the Wisbech incinerator has been approved. Picture: Garry Monger/WisWIN

Its proposals cover land on the Algores industrial estate at Wisbech, as well as a grid connection at the Walsoken Substation.

Owing to the size and significance of the proposed development, the Planning Inspectorate, rather than any local authority, examined the application and made its recommendation to Ms Coutinho.

The project was opposed by Norfolk County Council, West Norfolk Council, Fenland District Council, Wisbech Town Council, and Cambridgeshire County Council, as well as hundreds of local residents and local action groups because of the scale of the development and potential negative impacts on residents.

Liz Truss has vowed to keep the pressure on the authorities
Liz Truss has vowed to keep the pressure on the authorities

In representations at the public inquiry earlier in the year, Fenland District Council, together with Cambridgeshire County Council, highlighted the impact of the suggested development on the landscape, emissions, and transport links in and around Wisbech.

Following yesterday’s decision, South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss – who wrote a joint letter to Ms Coutinho with her North East Cambridgeshire counterpart Steve Barclay last week – expressed disappointment.

She said: “The Secretary of State's decision is deeply disappointing.

“I maintain that the site proposed for this incinerator is totally unsuitable and share the concerns of the many constituents who have contacted me about its likely detrimental impact on local schools, health, traffic and agricultural land.

West Norfolk Council leader Terry Parish has spoken out against the decision. Picture: West Norfolk Council
West Norfolk Council leader Terry Parish has spoken out against the decision. Picture: West Norfolk Council

“I will continue to put pressure on the authorities and raise residents' concerns.”

Meanwhile, Cllr Terry Parish, the leader of West Norfolk Council, said: “The fact that the Secretary of State has decided to give approval to the scheme is disappointing news, particularly given the significant local opposition to this scheme, from local people, local community groups and the relevant local authorities, who in our view know their area best.”

Cllr Alex Kemp, who is concerned about the impact the incinerator will have on her South and West Lynn constituents, said: “I think that the Secretary of State’s decision doesn’t take into account what it should do.

Cllr Alex Kemp has called for a judicial review. Picture: West Norfolk Council
Cllr Alex Kemp has called for a judicial review. Picture: West Norfolk Council

“I think it should be judicially reviewed. We take great offence to this.

“It shouldn’t be happening. I think they are out of touch with reality.”

Councillors in Fenland have also voiced their displeasure at the decision.

Cllr Dee Laws, Fenland District Council’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “Today’s decision is a huge disappointment to all of us who opposed this development.

“Fenland District Council worked closely with residents and partner organisations to demonstrate to the Planning Inspectorate and Secretary of State why this development was wrong for our residents, businesses and those in the wider area.

“Very sadly, the local voice has not been heard.

“Going forward we will do everything in our power to ensure the negative impact is minimised and to secure what benefits we can for our residents.”

Cllr Steve Tierney, district councillor for Wisbech South, said: “It is a dark day for Wisbech.

“The Government and its representatives have let us down, democracy has been ignored in favour of corporate interests.

“I personally feel depressed at this outcome and ashamed that the Government felt this was the right result. We did not deserve this. I’m disgusted.”

Meanwhile, Ginny Bucknor, a leading member of campaign group Wisbech Without Incineration (WisWIN), told the Citizen she is “devastated” by the decision.

“Everyone here is absolutely shocked, and we are very disappointed with the Government and our politicians, our MPs, because they have allowed this to happen,” she said.

Ms Bucknor says she is holding a conference with “certain influential people” tomorrow to determine the group’s next plan of action.

There is no automatic right of appeal over the decision.

“We are not giving up,” she added.

However, despite all of the frustrations, the managing director of Medworth CHP Ltd has promised to be a “good neighbour” when the incinerator is built.

Paul Carey said: “We look forward to going ahead with this project, in accordance with the requirements of the Development Consent Order.

“We want to assure the local community that we will be a good neighbour as we build and operate the new facility, as we have already demonstrated at our facilities in Plymouth and Dundee.”

Steve Barclay, the MP for North East Cambridgeshire, said: “I’m extremely disappointed that development consent has been granted for the Wisbech incinerator.

“As residents are aware, I have campaigned against this proposal and my thanks go to all those campaigners, individuals and organisations who have supported me along the way.

“There is a lot to digest in the [60 page] decision letter and recommendation report and I will review that to try to understand why this scheme has been approved and how we might move forward.”

Cllr Lorna Dupre, the chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s environment and green investment committee, added: “The minister’s decision is a huge disappointment to all of us locally who have opposed the Wisbech incinerator proposals and fought against Medworth MVV’s proposals for the edge of this historic town.

“Whilst we fundamentally disagree with the Government’s decision and do not believe it is in the best interests of the people of Wisbech, we recognise the Secretary of State’s authority on the matter.

“When it comes to nationally significant infrastructure projects like this one, the decision – and responsibility for the decision – lies with central government.”



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