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A majority of Norfolk’s county councillors have refused to object to a proposed Wisbech incinerator – for now.
A motion proposed by independent councillor for Clenchwarton and King’s Lynn South, Alexandra Kemp, called on Norfolk County Council to say it does not support the proposed incinerator because of its impact on West Norfolk and climate change.
MVV Environment wants to build an incinerator on land off Algores Way, in Wisbech, just across the Cambridgeshire border, which would handle more than 500,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste a year.
The scheme had been out for public consultation during the summer, ahead of the submission of a planning application for the plant. Members of West Norfolk Council have indicated their intention to object.
And, with the saga over the scrapped Saddlebow incinerator at King’s Lynn fresh in the memory, councillors at County Hall were urged to take a stand against the Wisbech plans.
Miss Kemp told the full council meeting the incinerator is twice the size of the rejected Saddlebow proposal and King’s Lynn will be downwind of the new plans.
Of particular concern to Miss Kemp was the public health effects.
She said small particulates from incinerators are linked to reproductive issues and a higher risk of congenital heart defects in children.
Ms Kemp also pointed to an explosion on a cargo ship carrying waste from a Plymouth incinerator that injured an engineer in 2017.
Seconding the motion, Green councillor Jamie Osborn called incinerators “bad neighbours”, raising concerns about the harm to air quality and CO2 emissions.
He said: “The proposed incinerator at this stage is estimated to emit almost 25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide during its 40 years of operation.
“The UK already faces incineration overcapacity, so why are we building more?”
Conservative council leader Andrew Proctor argued that now was not the time to object to the plans and said the council needed to wait until the planning stage.
“I ask, why now? When we haven’t seen the full details of what the project actually entails,” he said. “This is a national infrastructure project and the final decision will be made by the secretary of state.”
Mr Proctor said they should wait for the environmental impact assessment, biodiversity, landscape floodwater management and human health impact assessment before members take a stance.
He said the council recognises West Norfolk residents’ concerns and they will be taken into account.
Councillors voted 39-21 against, with seven abstentions.
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