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Norfolk's £102m contract to send waste out of the county

A £102 million contract has been signed which will send waste out of the county from the beginning of April and take a step towards a greener Norfolk.

The six-year agreement will deal with around 180,000 tonnes of waste each year and save an estimated £2 million or more annually as well as 47,000 tonnes of carbon.

But Green Party representative on West Norfolk Council, Michael de Whalley, claims it is anything but green and is concerned about the time span of the contract.

A waste incinerator like this is proposed for Wisbech
A waste incinerator like this is proposed for Wisbech

Anti-incinerator campaigner, Mr de Whalley, said: “If the contract is as good as the council say it is then why is it only six years? Could it be that this is timed to coincide with the opening of the proposed Wisbech mega-incinerator a few hundred metres upwind of the county line and could our county aim to use that? In this event, the emissions will waft across West Norfolk in the prevailing winds.”

Norfolk County Council has done the deal with Veolia with the waste going to a new site being built at Stewartby in Bedfordshire where it will be used to generate electricity.

When the deal was first approved, Cllr Andy Grant, cabinet member for environment and waste, said: “This deal is a win-win for taxpayers and the environment – saving £2m and 47,000 tonnes of carbon per year, by avoiding the need to dump waste in landfill sites.

Michael de Whalley at a Wisbech protest rally
Michael de Whalley at a Wisbech protest rally

“This new contract will deliver additional recycling and send zero waste direct to landfill, all while delivering better value for money for our residents. More than that, by using rubbish as a fuel for power generation it will help us achieve significant carbon savings and marks an important step in delivering a greener Norfolk.”

The arrangement means that more metals will be recovered for recycling from Norfolk’s left over rubbish and before the Stewartby facility is fully operational this summer a range of alternative energy from waste facilities are expected to be used.

In a separate arrangement with Suffolk County Council, around 20,000 tonnes of waste a year will be sent to an incinerator at Great Blakenham in Suffolk, where it will also be used to generate electricity and allow more metals to be recovered for recycling.

Mr Whalley also stated: “Burning our waste is morally indefensible wherever the deed is done as it harms recycling and creates pollution that is harmful to health as well as including vast quantities of carbon dioxide.

"Norfolk needs to concentrate on removing food waste and other organic materials from the residual waste stream which cost the taxpayer less to dispose of. Moving to separate collections of recyclable materials improves quality and recycling rates. The new waste contract severely restricts Norfolk ability to increase recycling levels."

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