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Fresh doubt on incinerator plan for West Norfolk border as MPs call for halt to schemes

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A new report from MPs calling for a moratorium on incinerators in the UK has raised fresh doubts over plans for one on the edge of West Norfolk.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Air Pollution has published a document calling on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to “decrease not increase” the number of incinerators in the UK.

It issued the call after hearing evidence from a range of experts.

The Wisbech incinerator will be twice the size of this one that MVV Environment built in Plymouth. (51700883)
The Wisbech incinerator will be twice the size of this one that MVV Environment built in Plymouth. (51700883)

In one presentation from an oncologist, the APPG heard how heavy metals linked with acute childhood leukaemia had been discovered in the toenails of children living near incinerators.

Another study presented to the APPG found dioxins in chicken eggs up to 10km from incinerators that emit them.

The report has raised new questions over the proposed project in Wisbech.

MVV Environment Ltd wants to build a £300m energy-generating plant – called the Medworth incinerator – on Algores Way in the Cambridgeshire town, just a few hundred metres from the border with Norfolk.

The decision on whether to grant permission for it will be made by secretary of state Kwasi Kwarteng, not by any local council.

Of the four local authorities responsible for scrutinising the proposal however, only Norfolk County Council has not stated its opposition to the plan.

Independent councillor Alexandra Kemp tabled a motion in September calling on NCC to oppose it, but Conservative leader Andrew Proctor argued that the council should wait until the formal planning stage in early 2022 before taking a view on it.

Speaking this week, Ms Kemp said: “Now that MPs have called for a moratorium on new incinerators because of the health hazards of particulates, the leader of Norfolk County Council should put out a clear statement that NCC opposes an incinerator on the Norfolk border in Wisbech.”

She said the incinerator’s plume could put the health of people in West Norfolk at risk.

A county council spokesperson said the authority was examining the APPG’s report in detail, but that the authority’s position had not changed since September.

MVV Environment Ltd said it was still assessing the APPG’s report, but “at first glance it seems that the APPG has only considered evidence from a narrow field of people who have consistently maintained an anti-incineration position over many years.”

It said the report failed to acknowledge Public Health England’s assessment that energy-from-waste facilities pose no significant health risks.

It added that the application for the incinerator will include a full air quality assessment and a human health risk assessment.

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