Council apologises over King’s Lynn incinerator land reference

Willows Business Park Saddlebow, King's Lynn

Land in the foreground is the proposed site for the incinerator ENGANL00120131018142016
Willows Business Park Saddlebow, King's Lynn Land in the foreground is the proposed site for the incinerator ENGANL00120131018142016
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Officials have apologised after a report indicating that Norfolk County Council would be seeking to buy land for an incinerator in Lynn was put to councillors this week.

The gaffe has been seized upon by campaigners as proof of the need for them to be “vigilant” against any possibility of the controversial scheme being revived.

But the authority maintains its new leadership has already ruled out a return for the idea.

Although the proposal to build an incinerator at Saddlebow was scrapped three years ago, concerns about it being revived were raised when Conservative Cliff Jordan became the county council’s new leader last month.

Initially, Mr Jordan only ruled out pursuing the technology as a method for dealing with Norfolk’s waste until next year’s elections.

However, he later claimed there was “no way” he would want to bring forward such a proposal.

But, a report presented to the council’s policy and resources committee, which he chairs, on Tuesday suggested the technology could still be an option for some within County Hall.

An asset management plan presented to the meeting said: “The Council will purchase land and buildings in advance of major schemes as part of, or prior to, formal CPO purchases to ensure that we can secure the land needed to deliver the scheme.

“This includes land/purchases made for major schemes like the Norwich Northern Distributor Route, Great Yarmouth Third River Crossing and the King’s Lynn incinerator.”

A council spokesman later said the phrase had been remarked upon in the meeting and the officer who compiled the report apologised for its use.

He added: “There is no suggestion of the project being revived.”

But Alexandra Kemp, the independent councillor for Clenchwarton and Lynn South, which includes the Saddlebow site, claimed the remark could be seen as evidence of support for an incinerator in the future, unless it is corrected now.

She said: “We have got to be vigilant here.”

And Labour’s Jo Rust tweeted that the idea had been “left open” by the Conservative administration.

Under the previous Labour-led administration, the county council had bound itself to a non-incineration stance as it pursued more sustainable waste management solutions.

But it also signed a four-year deal to process waste in reception centres at Costessey, Rackheath and Wisbech before shipping it to incinerators in Holland and Germany.

Although that has always been described as a temporary measure, critics claim insufficient progress has so far been made towards cleaner alternatives.