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Mega-incinerator planned for Wisbech offers area 'absolutely no benefits'

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Fenland District Council’s planning committee have agreed to oppose the building of a mega incinerator after agreeing it offered ‘absolutely no benefits’ to the district.

The committee discussed MVV’s plans to build a 54 megawatt waste burner on a site off Algores Way in Wisbech, just a few hundred metres away from local schools and businesses, at its meeting on Wednesday.

Nick Harding, Fenland’s head of planning explained because the planned incinerator would be in excess of 50MW it was not up to the district or county councils to decide whether or not it gets the go-ahead.

The blue building is what the proposed incinerator will look like alongside the existing cold store. (50182683)
The blue building is what the proposed incinerator will look like alongside the existing cold store. (50182683)

Instead it will be up to the Secretary of State through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects’ process to determine whether or not the German-based MVV Environment Ltd’s plans are given planning permission.

Mr Harding, told the meeting:“If the Secretary of State allows the development, this will be through a ‘Development Consent Order’ (DCO). The DCO, as well as ‘giving planning permission’, can authorise the compulsory purchase of any land that is needed.

“The DCO would authorise the construction, operation, maintenance and later decommissioning of an energy from waste (EFW) and combined heat and power (CHP) facility.

Coun David Connor, chairman of Fenland's planning committee.
Coun David Connor, chairman of Fenland's planning committee.

“The proposed EFW also includes a combined heat and power pipeline that will run along the former Wisbech railway track, a 132k velectrical grid connection and access improvement works.

“The maximum building height would be 50m and the maximum chimney height 90m.

“The development would be capable of handling up to 625,600 tonnes of waste per annum and aims to generate up to 53MWe of electricity, and up to 50MWth of usable heat (steam) energy.

“Because of the scale of the proposal, it would be subject to Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, and there will be a number of rounds of statutory public consultation, of which today is the first round.”

Coun Jan French (50182713)
Coun Jan French (50182713)

Councillor Jan French said: “I came into this meeting with an open mind about this scheme, but having listened to everything and read the papers I cannot support this. If it was being done in the middle of nowhere, that would be another thing; but in a built-up urban area would be crazy.”

Councillor David Connor , committee chair, added: “The application before us today, for me, brings absolutely no benefit to Fenland at all – there is no Section106 money to be had, this facility would be built just 750m from a school, huge lorries will churn up our already struggling roads… 362 movements a day, seven days a week just can’t be tolerated.

“I have no problem with people making money, but not at the expense of the people of Fenland. I feel we need to say ‘no’ to this – it just can’t be right for the area.”

Coun Mike Cornwell.
Coun Mike Cornwell.

Councillor Mike Cornwall asked: “I have seen similar facilities to this around the country and they are normally not built in an urban area – are we aware of any other facilities like this in an urban area and can we learn anything from their experiences?”

Mr Harding replied: “In Peterborough, in Fengate, there is an energy generating facility similar to this which is operated by Peterborough City Council, but it is not on anything like the same scale as this proposal.

“Just 500m away from that, the Secretary of State has given planning consent for a scheme very much like this application, and that will shortly be breaking ground.

“From an officer’s perspective, we only comment on the technical aspects of a scheme, and this varies from one project to another.

“We do look at potential particle pollution from the chimney, transportation links and access, proximity to listed buildings, areas of natural interest and the impact such a scheme could have on urban areas and the ecology – these then could be the principles upon which we might be able to object.”

Councillor Alex Miscandlon said: “Has anybody considered the pollution impact from the expected 362 vehicle movements per day at the site during and after the construction phase?”

Mr Harding said: “The air quality monitoring stations and air-management zones established a number of years ago would be responsible for keeping an eye on pollution levels.

“To answer your question, yes, construction pollution is an aspect that is considered as most of the vehicles going to and from this particular site would be travelling through urban areas.”

The committee's comments will now be sent to the Secretary of State.

The next round of the consultation process is expected to take place in January 2022.

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