Borough council comes out against incinerator
22nd March 2011 - the following article is reproduced by kind permission of Lynn News
WEST Norfolk Council aligned itself firmly with the anti-incinerator campaign on Thursday night - witnessed by one of the biggest public turnouts in its history.
And the authority joined North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham in calling for Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles to “call in” the plans for the controversial waste incinerator at Saddlebow and to determine the application instead of Norfolk County Council.
An estimated 220 people, some waving anti-incinerator placards, attended the special meeting of the council at Lynn Town Hall. About 130 were allowed inside the building and the rest stood in the courtyard outside as the debate was relayed by loudspeaker.
Borough council leader Nick Daubney called the meeting after the authority’s poll showed 65,516 people opposed the incinerator yet this was ignored by the county council’s cabinet on March 7 when it awarded the contract to build the plant to Anglo-US consortium Cory Wheelabrator.
Councillors voted unanimously to deplore the county cabinet’s decision and condemned it as undemocratic for ignoring the wishes of local people and West Norfolk’s two MPs. They said it struck against the “very heart of the localism agenda”.
They also voted unanimously for the borough council to oppose the building of a mass burn incinerator at Saddlebow and called for an urgent report on steps that could be taken to stop the county council pursuing the proposal, including a judicial review if necessary.
A fourth motion, carried with one abstention, said the borough council believed the actions of the county council had given notice to the public that the application to construct the incinerator had been “predetermined”, and therefore disqualified the county council from being a competent planning authority in this instance.
It added: “This council believes that financial arrangements set in place with the contractor impede an open and fair decision process. Therefore we call upon the secretary of state to ‘call in’ the decision and determine the application.”
Mr Daubney said he called the meeting because the county council had decided to ignore the poll result and belittle its significance.
“I believe people invest great trust in us. Our residents are not naive. They give us that trust and understand that there are times when unpopular, difficult decisions need to be made for the community’s benefit,” he said.
“As a politician, I know that when that trust is abused, it is lost and cannot be regained easily. I am not talking simply of elections and ballot boxes, I am talking about our role in the community and our responsibility to do the right thing by our community.
“I did not stand as a political representative to help ram down the throats of 65,000 people an incinerator they never asked for and do not want.”
Mr Daubney said the council was working hard to attract more business activity, tourism and academic and leisure facilities to West Norfolk. “We are trying to grow King’s Lynn, so how does building an unwanted facility upwind of our population centres assist our ambitions? It does exactly the opposite,” he added.
Liberal-Democrat Paul Burall said incineration was an outdated approach to dealing with waste and there were other options, including greatly increasing recycling rates.
Fellow LD councillor Dr Ian Mack urged the council to use its full range of powers and support a judicial review of the county cabinet’s decision.
“We need to hold all those responsible for this mess to account so that never again are we faced with such a significant threat to the health and wellbeing of the people of West Norfolk,” he said.
Labour councillor David Collis said the council should object “most strongly” to waste incinerators anywhere in the county, not just Lynn, because of the pollution problems that come with them.