£180m incinerator for Wisbech ‘came as a bit of a surprise even to us’ admits new Fenland Council leader

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

The new leader of Fenland Council admitted proposals for a £180 million in Wisbech “came as a bit of a surprise even to us”.

Councillor Chris Seaton was responding to questioning by independent Wisbech councillor Virginia Bucknor.

She asked him: “How far down the line have we gone?”

“There have been several meeting and a local architectural practice and a senior council officer has been involved.”

She called for more transparency on the issue and said it was “not about nimbysm – this are serious health issues that have been apparent for the past 10 years”.

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She quoted from a medical journal that said incinerators of the kind proposed should not be put in deprive areas where mortality rates were high.

She said she wanted an assurance in writing that no consideration was being given to the proposal.

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Cllr Bucknor promised that both she and her councillor husband Mike “will put together a major campaign against such a proposal because of health issues” if an application is submitted.

However Cllr Seaton said: “Yes I will give you a written answer, yes there have been few meetings but it is in its infancy.”

He said it had made it clear to officers that he “must know and members must know” if the scheme progresses.

He promised nothing would happen unless all councillors were fully involved.

This newspaper revealed last month that secret talks were held more than a year ago about the possibility of building an incinerator in Wisbech.

Fenland District Council (FDC) met with Frimstone and Cambridgeshire County Council in February last year at Fenland Hall.

According to a briefing note from county council director Graham Hughes, which was sent by council leader Steve Count in January, Frimstone has considered building a £180 million incinerator to turn waste into energy.

It could be operating by 2021 and take 250,000 tonnes of waste.

Frimstone has a contract with Norfolk County Council to process waste at its site off the A47, south of the town, which is sent to an incinerator in the Netherlands.

The contract was awarded by Norfolk after plans for an incinerator at King’s Lynn were pulled in 2014.

An FDC spokesman said “some exploratory discussions” had taken place about energy from waste (EFW) plant at Frimstone’s Wisbech site, which would also need land owned by the council to be built.

But Frimstone managing director Mark Davenport said: “We’ve had a look but we are not actually doing anything at the moment.” He stressed there were no plans at this time to build an incinerator.

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