Secret talks held over building incinerator in Wisbech for our waste

PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:16 16 February 2018

Frimstone's site in Wisbech. Photo: Google Street View

Frimstone's site in Wisbech. Photo: Google Street View

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Secret talks were held more than a year ago about the possibility of building an incinerator in Wisbech, we can reveal today.

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 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

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

According to a briefing note from Cambridgeshire County Council director Graham Hughes, which was sent by county council leader Steve Count to councillors 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, according to Cllr Count’s note.

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.

Building Energy from Waste plants (incinerators) keeps rubbish out of landfill but they have sparked protests from communities where they are proposed. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire Building Energy from Waste plants (incinerators) keeps rubbish out of landfill but they have sparked protests from communities where they are proposed. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

An FDC spokesman said “some exploratory discussions” had taken place about an 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.

But Cllr Count’s briefing note to councillors from the February 2017 meeting said Mr Davenport had assembled a team to look at an “alternative waste use based on Energy from Waste”.

Then in December last year Mr Davenport met Graham Hughes from the county council.

The briefing note sent to councillors about that meeting said: “He… (Mr Davenport) indicated that he was looking for an alternative waste use for the 10.5 acre site that Frimstone own.

“He briefly alluded to options including Energy from Waste but made no specific proposals or timescales for deciding how to proceed.”

A spokesman for Fenland Council said the district and county councils “have given no indication as to whether such a development would be acceptable”.

Wisbech town council leader Samantha Hoy, who is also a county councillor, said “we don’t want it here”.

When the saga to build an incinerator near King’s Lynn ended in 2014, Norfolk County Council had to find other ways to get rid of our waste.

It awarded Frimstone a £20m contract in 2015 to take thousands of tonnes of rubbish a year which is processed in Wisbech and sent to an incinerator in Holland. That contract runs out in 2020.

Norfolk also sends 40,000 tonnes of waste a year to an incinerator at Great Blakenham in Suffolk, which has not proved controversial.

But a similar plan to build an incinerator in Waterbeach has sparked opposition.

Mr Davenport said the issue could be “very inflammatory”.

But added: “We’re paying Europeans to buy our waste – and in return they have another fuel.”

According to Cambridgeshire County Council’s briefing note, the scheme could provide 50 new jobs. Norfolk County Council said Frimstone had not approached it about any proposal.

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