East Cambs softens it stance on proposed £200 million energy-from-waste plant for Waterbeach

NOT Wisbech but this is £200 million waste treatment facility is planned by Amey at Waterbeach; Fri

NOT Wisbech but this is £200 million waste treatment facility is planned by Amey at Waterbeach; Frimstone discussed building a similar sized plant last year. Image: Amey - Credit: Archant

East Cambs Council has decided to weaken a suggestion that the view of Ely Cathedral was a vital element in opposing a £200 million energy-from-waste plant at Waterbeach.

The district council, asked for its view on the application now before Cambridgeshire County Council, finally concluded that “the impact on Ely Cathedral (Grade I Listed Building) will need to be assessed”.

But they deleted a more detailed response – put forward by officers – that would have gone further in being more specific about long distance views of the cathedral being of concern.

Councillors were shown a photograph taken from Ely Cathedral, looking in a south-westerly direction. They were told that Ely Cathedral’s Lantern was 52 metres high and the West Tower measured 66 metres high. Officers pointed out that the top of the West Tower had views stretching to the edge of Cambridge and it was therefore reasonable to presume that a building with a maximum height of 80 metres would be clearly visible from the top of the tower.

.Councillor Mark Goldsack said he was all for protecting the cathedral, but the council’s proposed response “was a bit over the top”.


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Councillor Mike Rouse believed it was being overplayed, saying that nothing would ever be built if it could be seen from the West Tower of the Cathedral; when people climbed tall buildings, they looked for landmarks.

Councillor David Chaplin felt that other views were not being taken into account. The proposed facility would not be far from Anglesey Abbey or Wicken Fen; the latter was very dark at night and he did not want there to be light pollution.

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He supported the burning of rubbish and thought it was of more interest to ECDC because of the prevailing winds from the south east. He was, however, worried that black bags could end up being brought in from afar for burning and the impact this would have on the roads.

Councillor David Ambrose Smith remarked that Kings Lynn was going to have such a facility but then backed out of it. Had they gone ahead with it, maybe this proposal would not be coming forward.

Chairman Josh Schumann reiterated that it was a case of having to look at the balance. He did not wish ECDC to have a holding objection, just to be provided with more information.

Councillor Derrick Beckett said that in his opinion, the concerns about the cathedral were back to front. It should be about what was blocking the views between those people looking at it and the cathedral.

The district council also believes the “electrical and heat connections to offsite infrastructure/development will cause short congestion and delay on the A10.

“It is advised that discussions are had with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority as it is understood that improvements/road works to the A10 in the next few years are a key priority.”

The waste recovery facility would generate enough energy for 63,000 homes. It would also be capable of exporting heat to local users and to create this energy it would need to burn up to 250,000 tonnes of waste (nonhazardous) per annum.

The proposed building would measure 141 metres in length and 55 - 91 metres wide. The main height of the building would be 41.7 metres with the chimney being a maximum of 80 metres tall.

East Cambs councillors were told that the height of the main building would be similar to that of an 8 – 10 storey building.

Councillor Bill Hunt said that as a county councillor, he had visited an identical facility in Suffolk which took the rubbish from black bin bags. There were initially concerns about health, but there had been no problems.

The facility eliminated rubbish and generated enough electricity to run a town of 30,000 houses. He felt the district council should look at this because, if the proposal was run like the one at Ipswich, there would be no problems and the “thoughtful disposal of waste should be encouraged”.

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