Act now to stop Wisbech incinerator call from neighbouring campaign group
Four men who spearheaded the successful campaign to prevent a waste incinerator being built in King's Lynn are offering their expertise to help Wisbech campaigners in their fight to stop plans for a £300m plant in the town.
It is nearly five years since KLWin successfully fought off plans by Norfolk County Council and its development partner Cory Wheelabrator to build a £500 million plant at Saddlebow.
Now Michael de Whalley and his band of brothers in arms: Mike Knight, Martin Little, and Adrian Branwell, are set to have a meeting within the next fortnight to decide what action to take over plans by MVV Environment Ltd for a new energy facility off Algores Way, Wisbech.
It could see the successful campaign group launch their own fight against the Wisbech plans.
UK-based MVV, which is part of German firm MVV Energie AG, announced plans to build a 50 megawatt plant on the site with a £300 million investment in the project back in November. The aim is to turn waste into electricity and heat for use by big firms in Wisbech such as Nestlé Purina and Lamb Weston
A move which prompted Wisbech Town councillors to immediately launch a 'No Incinerator in Wisbech' campaign via Facebook. However, Mr de Whalley said attempts to contact the town council to offer support for the campaign have so far failed.
KLWin chairman Martin Little said: "Make no mistake this is a major concern not only for the people of Wisbech but also King's Lynn, West Norfolk and beyond. We will do what we can to fight our own end, but for the campaign to be successful it must be local, and that means it must be led by Wisbech people.
"We are happy to offer our support and expertise, but we will not be fighting this for Wisbech. In reality the campaign should have started 'yesterday' to inform people of what this will mean for them.
"Once people are aware of what it means in terms of health, the affect it will have on house prices, and the environment - just think of the number of lorries that will have to go in and out every day carrying waste to be burned - then Wisbech should organise a referendum, so people can have their say.
"Consultation should not be left to the company behind the plans, it needs to be open so people can be fully informed and there is an opportunity to challenge what the company is saying. It is very easy for people to be fooled by the company's information."
Describing MVV's plans as a 'major blow' Mr de Whalley added: "We are desperate to can engage with the town council and pass on our experience and offer any support we can.
"This new proposal has far reaching implications not just for Wisbech but for the whole of West Norfolk. The proposed site is only just over the border into Fenland and toxic particles will drift on prevailing winds straight into Norfolk to King's Lynn and beyond."
The Green party borough councillor added: "We fought for five years to get the King's Lynn incinerator stopped. But campaigners fighting to stop the Wisbech plant have an even bigger battle on their hands as the proposals are being drawn up as a national infra-structure project, which means it will be decided by the secretary of state."
"It is going to be much harder to persuade the government to prevent the development going ahead than it was to persuade Norfolk County Council five years ago, which is why people need to act now."
Mr Little added: "Those with power and influence like the town council, the district council and the MP need to lead the way and the public needs to get behind them if the campaign is to have any chance of success."
Before December's election local MP Steve Barclay voiced his concerns over the proposals and raised the issue of traffic generated by the plant, which could be up to 300 lorries a day and also its close proximity to schools including the Thomas Clarkson Academy.
In a briefing statement issued last November Paul Carey, managing director of MVV Environment, gave assurances that the plant, which will create around 700 jobs while under construction and then 40 full-time posts once it is up and running, will not create any smell.
He said any odours will be burned during the combustion process so that any emissions will be odourless and argued it would play a vital role in stopping waste going to landfill.
However, both Mr Little and Mr de Whalley said people should not be fooled by the 'no smell' promise. Toxic particles, too small to be removed by the plant's filtration system, will make it into the air.
The carbon particles maybe tiny but Mr Little warned they could be laden with toxins such as cadmium, lead, arsenic and other dangerous elements making them far more toxic than average pollution from cars and lorries.
Mr de Whalley also argued incinerators are a 'danger' to waste recycling, with plastics and paper being burned rather than being recycled.
"They really are harmful to the recycle, reduce and reuse efforts as the firm will want materials that burn easily like paper and plastic and that will impact on what is recycled. It is also worth pointing out that the process will release CO2 into the atmosphere, which has played a huge part in creating climate change," he said.
And he concluded: "This is a really serious issue. In King's Lynn 65,516 people voted against an incinerator in a poll - that is huge. Wisbech and Fenland as a whole needs to act if they are to follow our success and they need to do it now - we are here to offer our support and will be happy to help in anyway we can, but it is up to Wisbech and Fenland to fight if they want to stop this incinerator."
More by this authorSarah Cliss