Fresh doubts raised over incinerator plan

Wisbech says NO to incinerator.
Market Place, Wisbech
Sunday 27 June 2021.
Picture by Terry Harris.

Protests have previously been held over plans for an incinerator in Wisbech - Credit: Terry Harris

A new report from MPs calling for a moratorium on incinerators in the UK has raised fresh doubts over plans for one in Wisbech.  

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Air Pollution has published a document calling on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to “decrease not increase” the number of incinerators in the UK.

It issued the call after hearing evidence from a range of experts. In one presentation from an oncologist, the APPG heard how heavy metals linked with acute childhood leukaemia had been discovered in the toenails of children living near incinerators.

Another study presented to the APPG found dioxins in chicken eggs up to 10km from incinerators that emit them.

The report has raised new questions over the proposed project in Wisbech.

MVV Environment Ltd wants to build a £300m energy-generating plant - called the Medworth incinerator - on Algores Way in the Cambridgeshire town, just a few hundred metres from the border with Norfolk. 

Kwasi Kwarteng

Secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Kwasi Kwarteng - Credit: UK Parliament

The decision on whether to grant permission for it will be made by secretary of state Kwasi Kwarteng, not by any local council. 

Most Read

Of the four local authorities responsible for scrutinising the proposal however, only Norfolk County Council has not stated its opposition to the plan.

Independent councillor Alexandra Kemp tabled a motion in September calling on NCC to oppose it, but Conservative leader Andrew Proctor argued that the council should wait until the formal planning stage in early 2022 before taking a view on it. 

Speaking this week, Ms Kemp said: “Now that MPs have called for a moratorium on new incinerators because of the health hazards of particulates, the leader of Norfolk County Council should put out a clear statement that NCC opposes an incinerator on the Norfolk border in Wisbech.”

She said the incinerator’s plume could put the health of people in King’s Lynn at risk.

The local election count at the Corn Exchange in King's Lynn. Cllr Alexandra Kemp was elected to the

Independent borough and county councillor Alexandra Kemp - Credit: Ian Burt

An NCC spokesperson said that the council was examining the APPG’s report in detail, but that the authority’s position had not changed since September. 

MVV Environment Ltd said it was still assessing the APPG’s report, but “at first glance it seems that the APPG has only considered evidence from a narrow field of people who have consistently maintained an anti-incineration position over many years.”

It said the report failed to acknowledge Public Health England’s assessment that energy-from-waste facilities pose no significant health risks. 

It added that the application for the incinerator will include a full air quality assessment and a human health risk assessment.