Calls for public inquiry into Wisbech mega incinerator

Campaigners launch fight against Wisbech incinerator at town rally. Picture: KIM TAYLOR

Campaigners launch fight against Wisbech incinerator at town rally. Picture: KIM TAYLOR - Credit: Archant

Campaigners against proposals to build a mega incinerator in Wisbech are calling for a public inquiry.

Wisbech Without Incineration (WisWin) argues there is evidence of public concern and that no formal consultation has taken place with residents because of the coronavirus lockdown.

The campaign also highlights that the town, district and county councils have voted against the incinerator and thousands of people, including MPs Steve Barclay and Liz Truss, have signed a petition echoing concerns about the plans.

In an email to Councillor Chris Boden, WisWin has urged the Leader of Fenland District Council to join them by also writing to Alok Sharma, the secretary of state, requesting the public inquiry.

It said: “You will also be aware that a public inquiry was held for the much smaller Waterbeach incinerator, half the size of that for Wisbech, following which the proposal was rejected by [the then] Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP.”

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 700 jobs and make electricity by burning non-recycled waste that would otherwise go to landfill.

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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.

Although no application has yet been submitted for permission to build the incinerator, the government has responded to a request for a scoping report, which advises the applicant on the scope and level of detail that will need to be provided in the application’s environmental statement.

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.

Ultimately the decision on whether or not the incinerator is approved for construction will be taken by Alok Sharma MP, currently the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.