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Government delays Wisbech incinerator decision as permits temporarily banned





A Government decision has been made to pause decisions on permits for incineration sites - including in Wisbech.

A short-term pause has been put in place regarding applications for environmental permits for certain types of incinerator facilities in England.

This direction applies to the grant or refusal of applications which the Environment Agency received on or before April 4 2024.

Lead inspector Andre Pinto carried out an accompanied site inspection of places of interest connected to the proposed Wisbech mega-incinerator. Photos: Garry Monger/WisWIN.
Lead inspector Andre Pinto carried out an accompanied site inspection of places of interest connected to the proposed Wisbech mega-incinerator. Photos: Garry Monger/WisWIN.

This comes after Wisbech’s incinerator was given the go-ahead by Claire Coutinho, the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, on February 20.

The pause applies to applications regardless of whether they hold planning permission from the relevant planning authority.

The pause will last until May 24, but it may be withdrawn sooner.

Lead inspector Andre Pinto carried out an accompanied site inspection of places of interest connected to the proposed Wisbech mega-incinerator. Photos: Garry Monger/WisWIN.
Lead inspector Andre Pinto carried out an accompanied site inspection of places of interest connected to the proposed Wisbech mega-incinerator. Photos: Garry Monger/WisWIN.

Rt. Hon. Sir Mark Spencer MP issued the direction for the pause.

While this pause is in place, it is thought that Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will lead a piece of work to consider the role of further waste incineration facilities.

In the letter, Rt Hon Spencer said: “The Government is committed to reducing waste, improving recycling and ensuring we continue to reduce the quantity of waste sent for incineration in order to meet our environmental goals and targets, in line with the published Resources and Waste Strategy.

“It is vital to ensure we have the right waste management infrastructure, in the right place, through which we deliver our strategic ambitions.

Lead inspector Andre Pinto carried out an accompanied site inspection of places of interest connected to the proposed Wisbech mega-incinerator. Photos: Garry Monger/WisWIN.
Lead inspector Andre Pinto carried out an accompanied site inspection of places of interest connected to the proposed Wisbech mega-incinerator. Photos: Garry Monger/WisWIN.

“Therefore, during this period, Defra officials will lead a piece of work to consider the role of further waste incineration facilities giving regard to Defra’s resources and waste objectives and wider government environmental and decarbonisation objectives and obligations.”

North West Norfolk MP James Wild said that he welcomed this decision and said that plans for the Wisbech incinerator shouldn’t go ahead.

Mr Wild said: “The Direction from Defra to the Environment Agency ordering a pause on decisions on environmental permits for new waste incineration facilities is very welcome.

“When we have legally binding targets to halve the amount of residual waste going to landfill or incineration and existing incinerator capacity, the Wisbech project should not go ahead.

“Last month I met the Minister and expressed the strong opposition locally to this project. While planning permission was very disappointingly granted, without an environmental permit the project can’t proceed.

“I will continue to make representations to the Defra team considering the role of further waste incineration.”

The Government’s goals is that by 2042, residual waste would have been halved - excluding major mineral wastes.

The letter added: “The short-term pause will not affect currently operational waste treatment capacity, nor new developments where an environmental permit has already been granted.

“Neither will it apply to permits for hazardous or clinical waste incineration facilities, small waste incineration plants, incinerators seeking a permit variation for an existing environmental permit, significant permit variations for incinerators seeking to develop carbon capture and storage provision, or facilities whose primary purpose is the recycling of materials.”



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