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'No incinerator in Wisbech' campaign launched as news of plans for a £300 million project is announced

A campaign has been launched this morning (Friday) to stop an incinerator being built on the outskirts of a Fenland town.

Wisbech Town councillors have galvanised into action within hours of learning of plans by MVV Environment Ltd for a new energy from waste combined heat and power facility generating electricity and steam on land off Algores Way, Wisbech.

The UK-based firm, which is part of German firm MVV Energie AG, is looking to build a 50 megawatt plant on the site with a £300 million investment in the project.

What the incinerator will look like from Halfpenny Lane. (20619355)
What the incinerator will look like from Halfpenny Lane. (20619355)

In a press statement the company says it will be looking for local people to build, operate and maintain the facility, which if all goes to plan could be up and running within the next five years. If plans are successful a new company called MVV Environment Medworth will be set up to run it.

A briefing statement for local councillors explains the name comes from the Medworth Ward in which the proposed site sits.

And explains: "Some of the non-recyclable waste from the east of England region is currently exported to continental Europe where it is used as fuel in energy from waste facilities. MVV look to bring their expertise to the area and create a new business for Wisbech to avoid transporting the waste overseas and to generate renewable energy for local businesses.

"The industrial area in the Medworth Ward offers the perfect opportunity to achieve high efficiencies with combined heat and power."

However, Councillor Sam Hoy, leader of Wisbech Town Council, is urging residents to get behind the council's 'No Incinerator in Wisbech' campaign launchedjust hours after members were told of the plans.

She said: "This is a huge project, the building is going to be larger than the cold store, it will be visible from space which is ridiculous. It will be disposing of waste from outside the area, and we don't want Wisbech to become the dumping ground of other people's rubbish.

"They say there will be no smell caused by the plant, but we were told that about Lamb Weston and Nestle Purina, and there is an issue with odours from those factories.

"The most worrying thing about this is that it will not be decided at a local level. It is being drawn up as a national infra-structure project, which means it will be decided at a national level. This is going to have a massive impact on local residents, and because of it's size it's going to dominate the town, and be the first thing visitors see.

"We will be organising public meetings, and petitions in the future, but for now we are asking people to sign up to the Facebook page."

However, Paul Carey, managing direct 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.

Mr Carey argued facilities such as the Wisbech incinerator were vital in controlling the amount of waste going to landfill and will provide much needed, low cost energy.

The energy produced by the Wisbech plant would be provided to local factories such as Nestle Purina, the cold store and Lamb Weston, as well as any potential new industries locating to the land adjacent, which has been earmarked for industrial development.

"It could be used as a positive to attract industry to the town, which will in turn provide more skilled jobs," said Mr Carey.

Mr Carey said: "We have demonstrated our ability to deliver such projects in Plymouth, Sittingbourne and Dundee, and look forward to engaging with the local community to explain our proposals and seek their views.”

The proposed incinerator will divert over half a million tonnes of non-recyclable waste from landfill every year, generating around 53 megawatts of electricity and will have a 40-year life span.

Mr Carey said the company had already had preliminary discussions with the planning inspectorate and will be submitting a request for a scoping opinion within the next few weeks.

He said there is likely to be a year of consultation before a formal planning application is made, which will then take around another year to be determined.

Work would start shortly after a 'yes' decision and construction will take around three years to complete, with the facility coming online in about five years' time.

He said in addition to the 40 full-time staff in skilled roles, there will be additional 'indirect' jobs created in the areas of maintenance, cleaning, catering and other services.

Mr Carey said: "The value of these will be in the region of at least £5 million per year, with further significant sums such as business rates paid to the local community.

"The planning process will involve extensive consultation with all stakeholders. MVV recognises the importance of local people and knowledge to any new project and throughout the consultation period MVV staff will be available to answer questions and explain what the project will entail, as well as how new employment opportunities will be created. MVV will make further announcements in the near future, including the setting up of a project specific website where further information will be available.

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