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'Where do you stand?' Norfolk County Council urged to explain stance on incinerator proposal

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Environmental campaigners have urged county council leaders to “come clean” about their stance on plans for a massive waste incinerator a stone’s throw from the West Norfolk border.

The call comes after a scheduled Norfolk County Council meeting later this month, where a motion concerning the planned development on the edge of Wisbech had been tabled, was cancelled.

County Hall officials say that decision was taken on cost grounds and business will be transferred to the next meeting in September.

Campaigners opposing plans for a waste incinerator like this being built in Wisbech are lobbying the government. (44308421)
Campaigners opposing plans for a waste incinerator like this being built in Wisbech are lobbying the government. (44308421)

But critics believe the authority is trying to avoid reigniting the furore created when it backed plans for an incinerator at Saddlebow more than a decade ago.

Martin Little, of King’s Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN), said: “If NCC do plan to send waste to the Wisbech incinerator, if and when it is built, then they should tell us so the issues can be discussed.

“Public consultation over the incinerator proposal has just started so the views and positions of those deciding waste disposal issues for us at County Hall are important.”

Independent councillor Alexandra Kemp had tabled a motion for the planned county meeting on July 19, calling for the authority to oppose the latest proposal, which is around half a mile from the West Norfolk boundary.

A similar motion was overwhelmingly passed by West Norfolk Council earlier this year.

But it was confirmed this week that the meeting would not take place, with all scheduled business moving to the next meeting on September 27.

A county council spokesman said: “Should current social distancing rules remain in force on that date, the meeting would require the hiring of an external venue, the associated costs of which – including the reinstallation of IT equipment required to broadcast the meeting online – would have been in excess of £12,000.

“It was considered that no business scheduled for the July meeting was sufficiently urgent to justify this cost.”

The authority has previously held several meetings at the Norfolk Showground.

And it claims that the costs of staging this meeting would have been higher than for all of the previous sessions held away from County Hall combined.

But Miss Kemp claimed the council was “running scared” and alternative arrangements could, and should, have been made to ensure the debate proceeded.

She said: “To cancel full council on grounds of safety, on the day when lockdown restrictions will ease, without a replacement meeting, is undemocratic.

“There is a terrace and open fields at County Hall. Full council can meet. That is what the council should do.”

Some communities in West Norfolk will have the chance to see the Wisbech incinerator plans for themselves during an ongoing public consultation.

Developers MVV are currently seeking public views on their proposals in a process which will continue until mid-August.

And events are due to take place in Walton Highway, Marshland St James and Walpole St Andrew on July 19, 20 and 21 respectively. Documents can also be viewed at Marshland Hall in Marshland St James.

A statement on the developer’s website said: “The statutory consultation will run from 28th June 2021 to 13th August 2021 and offers another opportunity for the local community and other stakeholders to have their say on the updated proposals.

“During the consultation period, we will hold eight public exhibition events where MVV staff will be available to answer questions and listen to concerns.”

But campaigners in West Norfolk say more consultations should be taking place here, because of what they argue will be the impact of its emissions being blown over the borough on prevailing winds.

For full details of the consultation, and how to have your say, visit www.mvv-medworthchp.co.uk.

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