‘No burner on my watch’, says new Norfolk County Council leader

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The new leader of Norfolk County Council has insisted that an incinerator is not on his agenda as he settles into his new post.

Cliff Jordan was a strong supporter of the ill-fated bid to build a burner at Saddlebow, on the edge of Lynn, which was finally dropped two years ago.

He even went as far as to accuse Conservative MPs of “treachery” after they successfully lobbied for a key government grant to be axed.

But, following his election as the authority’s new leader on Monday, Mr Jordan indicated he was not keen to open such an old and deep political wound.

He initially said he could only guarantee the issue would remain off the agenda until next year’s elections.

But he later added: “There’s no way I want to bring an incinerator back. Why would you want to upset people? There’s no point.

“There’s enough incineration going on round the boundaries of Norfolk that we can ship it there and, if the predictions are right that recycling is increasing, there’s going to be less rubbish.”

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 the authority 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 officials insisted that the measure was temporary until more sustainable solutions are secured, some critics say work towards them has been too slow.

And Michael de Whalley, the founder of King’s Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN) which led the fight against the plant, admitted he was more concerned about an incinerator being proposed under Mr Jordan’s leadership than under that of his predecessor, George Nobbs.

But he added: “I think the chances are unlikely for a whole range of reasons, not least that it’s cheaper to ship it out of the country.

“They’re (incinerator operators) desperate to meet their tonnages and they’re doing it by importing waste.”

Mr de Whalley’s Green Party colleagues on the county council have also faced criticism after announcing their intention to withdraw support from the previous leader, George Nobbs, ahead of the meeting where Mr Jordan was elected.

Some social media comments claimed the move was an act of revenge after the party suffered losses to Labour in last week’s Norwich City Council elections.

But Andrew Boswell, the party’s environment, development and transport spokesman, dismissed the accusation, insisting they had fundamental concerns about Mr Nobbs’ leadership on a number of issues.

His support for the Norwich northern distributor road has been highlighted as one key area of division.

But Mr Boswell said their position had hardened as a result of the budget passed by the county council in February, which he described as an “austerity budget” that was deemed acceptable by all parties except the Greens.

He added: “We had no reason to support either leader, which is what we did.”