Council land sales on hold around proposed incinerator site
PUBLISHED: 16:04 09 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:35 14 September 2020
Councillors have agreed a six-month hold on the sale of Fenland District Council’s land around the proposed Wisbech incinerator site.
The move was put forward in an attempt to prevent plans to build a mega incinerator from progressing, and to encourage the town’s railway line to be reinstated.
Cllr Steve Tierney proposed the motion, which was debated at Fenland District Council’s last full council meeting yesterday (Tuesday).
He said: “This council has previously passed a motion saying we will do everything within our power to oppose the building of this incinerator and we have supported a railway line for many years.
“This motion is simply one of those things we can do. We don’t know at this stage what tricks or what moves may be done by people who want to build an incinerator.
The motion advised a six month moratorium is observed on all sales of Fenland District Council’s land in Wisbech within 500 metres of the track of the decommissioned railway line and 500 metres of the proposed incinerator’s site.
Exceptions can be taken into consideration if the sale is related to the reinstatement of the railway line or ‘assists in the fight to oppose the incinerator’.
It will also not apply for sales which the council is permitted to complete by a court, under a compulsory purchase order or if threatened with legal action it cannot successfully defend.
While Cllr Gavin Booth spoke in favour, he felt the six months would not be an adequate amount of time considering the railway has been discussed since he first joined the council around 10 years ago.
Some councillors did share wider concerns about the motion, mainly that the moratorium would have an impact on potential businesses keen to expand in that area and other landowners could still sell their land nearby for the incinerator.
Cllr Charlie Marks said: “We may be stopping businesses that are just coming through a hard time of Covid from expanding or relocating to this area.”
He added: “If this motion succeeds, we have just taken out one of the biggest growth employment areas in Fenland for the foreseeable future.”
Cllr Ian Benny, portfolio holder for economic growth, explained that while he opposes the incinerator the motion would ‘do irrefutable damage to Fenland council’s reputation’.
Twenty-six councillors agreed the motion, five disagreed and one abstained.
MVV Environment Ltd is proposing to build an energy from waste combined heat and power facility in Algores Way, in the Medworth ward of Wisbech
The company says the £300 million incinerator would create jobs and make electricity by burning non-recycled waste that would otherwise go to landfill.
It has also said the incinerator’s chimney would likely be around 95 metres high.
If the planning process goes ahead, the application will be subject to a public examination of the arguments for and against by the government’s planning inspectorate, before determination by the government.
As well as residents, many public figures publicly oppose the plans, from MP Steve Barclay to Cambridgeshire County Council.
Wisbech Without Incineration campaigners are calling for a public inquiry as no formal consultation has taken place with residents because of the coronavirus lockdown.
MVV has said it intends to carry out a second round of non-statutory consultation, including public exhibitions, later this year, before the statutory consultation expected in early 2021.
The company has argued there is a need for the incinerator, saying it avoids transporting waste overseas, and that it will “recover useful, sustainable, energy from residual municipal waste” and avoid it being sent to landfill.
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