Incinerator Row Escalates
8:59am 3rd February 2014
MPs Elizabeth Truss and Henry Bellingham have joined up with the Leader of the Borough Council Nick Daubney to launch a blistering attack on Norfolk County Council's plans for a waste incinerator in King's Lynn.
But the County Council claim they've got their figures wrong, and are backing unproven and un-built technology.
In a press conference on Friday afternoon figures were given to the media claiming that the cheapest way to get rid of Norfolk's rubbish would be to put it on a boat to Amsterdam, use the Suffolk Incinerator which will open at the end of this year, and then use a new kind “greener” technology.
Henry Bellingham says that if you compare Gate Fees (the amount each rubbish lorry would have to pay to unload at a waste facility) then the Willows Plant is far more expensive than any of the other options, including planned incinerators in Suffolk and Peterborough, existing ones in Holland, and especially when compared to experimental technology being worked on by a company called Material Works.
He says he’d ship to Amsterdam as soon as possible and stop using landfill:
“That is not a long term solution but there are short term solutions to the problem while we get in place longer term, sustainable technologies, that the public support, of which Material Works here in King’s Lynn is an outstanding example.”
But the County Council says this new report is based on hypothetical figures and it’s not a fair comparison.
Liz Truss says if these new figures are wrong, then the County needs to publish the contract, which has been kept secret so far, so we can all take a look:
“If they think they’re wrong, they need to publish what the real figures are. They need to tell us what they are paying per tonne in the Cory-Wheelabrator contract. They need to tell us what they think it would cost to use an alternative, so to use the spare Suffolk [incinerator, due at the end of this year] capacity, to potentially ship the waste to Amsterdam in the short term, or to use the Material Works Contract here in King’s Lynn. But they haven’t published a figure for what this will cost the Norfolk taxpayer for the next 23 years.”
We’re waiting on the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to make a decision on whether planning permission should be given for the Willows Incinerator or not. If he turns it down, then Norfolk County Council has to pay compensation to Cory-Wheelabrator. If it’s granted, then they’d have to pay an awful lot of money to get out of the contract.
KLFM has been told during the conference that worries about affording those compensations fees are unfounded, as Norfolk County Council has tens of millions of pounds in reserves.
Nick Daubney, Leader of the Borough Council says it has to be cheaper to just buy out of the contract and start again:
“The County Council can well afford to meet this bill. I think Liz Truss’ analogy of a house survey was very good. You don’t do a survey on a house, get a bad report and still crash on and buy the house. You cut your losses and you look elsewhere and this is what the County need to do.”
Norfolk County Council was not at the press conference and was not able to look at the figures on Friday night but they did give us a statement from Cllr David Harrison:
“We weren't invited to today’s event which I have made out was orchestrated as a distraction from Mr Pickles visit to Norfolk.
But, from what we understand, the audience was presented with a collection of hypothetical schemes that have not yet been fully developed or properly costed and which in most cases would take years to come to fruition, if at all
Compare this with a legally binding contract that we know for certain will deliver £20million of savings compared to landfill. Plus it has the potential of making tens of millions more from selling heat and power from the plant.”
The Authority Added:
"Crucially the opponents very own independent consultants, PWC, advised against making comparisons like this when they published last month.
Time and again the Willows project has been scoured over and found to deliver good value for money. All the facts have been with Eric Pickles for a very long time and once again I'd urge him to deliver his verdict soon so that this shovel ready project can move ahead and so that the grandstanding we have seen today can be done away with once and for all."