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Waste incinerator may still be built in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 07:25 14 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:47 06 July 2010

Council bosses have refused to rule out building an incinerator somewhere in Norfolk after rubber-stamping a decision which will see a multi-million pound contract for a new waste plant ditched.

Council bosses have refused to rule out building an incinerator somewhere in Norfolk after rubber-stamping a decision which will see a multi-million pound contract for a new waste plant ditched.

Members of Norfolk County Council's cabinet yesterday agreed to abandon what is known as Contract A - which would have seen a mechanical treatment plant built at Costessey - and which County Hall has already spent £2.5m progressing.

They said the soaring cost of that plant - which would have used a process called anaerobic digestion to turn waste into a form of industrial compost - coupled with Norfolk people's increased recycling, meant the scheme no longer represented value for money.

Instead they say just one major waste plant will be needed to deal with Norfolk's waste and have identified land at King's Lynn for that plant.

While council chiefs have made clear they will not revive the previous plan for an incinerator at Costessey, council leader Daniel Cox refused to rule out an incinerator in West Norfolk as part of Contract B.

He said: "Nothing is being ruled in or being ruled out. What we had started with Contract A is being applied to Contract B. We have invited organisations to come forward with a variety of technologies and a variety of costs. We have put our criteria in place and will proceed from there."

Before the decision was made Ian Monson, cabinet member for environment and waste, said the deal with contractor Sustainable Resource Management (SRM) was no longer tenable because costs had gone up by 50pc, but stressed the decision to scrap it was "not made lightly".

He said: "Council taxpayers should not be saddled with this kind of cost to dispose of their waste. It is for this reason and this reason alone that we ask cabinet to accept this recommendation and agree to abandon Contract A.

"Over the past five years a considerable amount of work has gone into this and it is disappointing it has come to nothing, but it is better that we opt out now, having given SRM every opportunity to come up with a viable bid."

He said Contracts A and B combined were designed to deal with more than 300,000 tonnes of waste a year, but, with increased recycling rates of more than 40pc, Norfolk was producing between 220,000 and 250,000 tonnes of waste each year.

That meant, he said, only one major waste plant was needed, in association with a number of smaller schemes which would deal with food waste through processes such as anaerobic digestion.

Tim East, Lib Dem spokesman for planning, transport, environment and waste, said: "The termination of Contract A means the county council are going to try to develop a whole range of smaller scale schemes dotted around the county, including food digesters.

"How these will accommodate 130,000 tonnes of biodegradable municipal waste disposals between 2011 and 2015 is anyone's guess, given that none have been built yet?"

Andrew Boswell, leader of the Green group, said: "There are still too many questions which need answering about what went

wrong and get assurances that the same thing won't happen with contract B."

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