King's Lynn incinerator: Plans approved by Norfolk County Council

King's Lynn incinerator protesters outside of County Hall, Norwich Campaigners protested outside of County Hall during the planning meeting

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A controversial £500m waste incinerator in Norfolk has been given the go-ahead by Norfolk county councillors.

Protesters gathered outside County Hall in Norwich ahead of the meeting at which the plant, in Saddlebow, King's Lynn, was granted planning permission.

The incinerator will not be built until it has received the backing of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

He put a holding notice on the plan on Thursday amid objections by MPs and King's Lynn council.

Councillors voted through the proposals at the meeting, with nine in favour, four against and two abstentions.

Health concerns

North West Norfolk Conservative MP Henry Bellingham said he was not surprised by the decision, but hoped the government would appoint a planning inspector to make the final decision.

"I don't think we got a fair hearing but we will keep fighting," he said. "I am confident of the arguments for it being called in."

In planning papers released last week, Mike Jackson, the county council's director of environment, transport and development, backed the plant as a "key proposal" in the treatment of waste.

As of last month Mr Pickles had received nearly 4,000 letters urging him to review the planning process, his office said.

Incinerator timeline

  • 1 March 2011: 92% of residents in a west Norfolk referendum object to the incinerator plans
  • 7 March 2011: Norfolk County Council (NCC) gives preliminary backing to the incinerator
  • 15 June 2011: Developer Cory Wheelabrator submits planning application to NCC
  • 8 December 2011: Campaigners lose a bid for a judicial review over NCC's backing of the plant at the High Court
  • 18 January 2012: Plant awarded £91m in PFI credits by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman
  • 27 January 2012: King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council (KLWNBC) vote to seek a judicial review of the PFI funding
  • February / March 2012: Environment Agency and Natural England lift final concerns about incinerator
  • 18 April 2012: Draft operating permit issued for the plant
  • 14 June 2012: KLWNBC submit plans for own alternative waste scheme
  • 19 June 2012: NCC planners advised to approve burner

Norwich City Council and local residents have also condemned the building of the plant since the county council gave the scheme its preliminary backing in March 2011.

Campaigners have aired concerns over health, the environment and whether the plant would offer the best solution to the county's waste problems.

Planning papers said the incinerator would have "no adverse impacts" on air quality, human health or the environment.

However, plans to use new black bin waste disposal technology as alternative to an incinerator have been proposed by West Norfolk councillors, who agreed last week to write up a conditional contract with the scheme's developer.

NCC said the plans were an attempt to "disrupt" the Saddlebow scheme.

In January, the Saddlebow plant was awarded £91m in private finance (PFI) credits by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman.

Developer Cory Wheelabrator said the incinerator would save the county council taxpayer £200m and divert 250,000 tonnes of waste away from landfill.

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