Councillors share their views on Wisbech incinerator plans

Campaigners rally against Wisbech incinerator in town centre

Campaigners rallied in Wisbech against the plans to build an incinerator in the town, a rally which Cambridgeshire mayor Dr Nik Johnson attended. - Credit: Terry Harris

Fenland District Council has considered consultation material submitted to them for an incinerator in Wisbech. 

The consultation relates to an Energy from Waste (EfW) and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) facility to be built in the town. 

Speaking to members of the planning committee today (Wednesday), Nick Harding, head of planning, said: “This proposal is for an EfW and CHP facility to be located in Wisbech. 

“Because the output of the facility is proposed to be in excess of 50MW, the proposal is not one that is determined by the county council or the district council. 

“Instead, the proposal will be determined by the Secretary of State through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects process under the Planning Act 2008. 

“If the Secretary of State allows the development, this will be through a ‘Development Consent Order’ (DCO). The DCO, as well as ‘giving planning permission’, can authorise the compulsory purchase of any land that is needed. 

“The DCO would authorise the construction, operation, maintenance and later decommissioning of an EfW and CHP facility on the industrial estate, Algores Way, Wisbech.” 

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Mr Harding said the proposed incinerator includes “a CHP pipeline that will run along the former Wisbech railway track, a 132kV electrical grid connection and access improvement works. 

“The maximum building height would be 50m and the maximum chimney height 90m. 

“The development would be capable of handling up to 625,600 tonnes of waste per annum and aims to generate up to 53MWe of electricity, and up to 50MWth of usable heat (steam) energy. 

“Because of the scale of the proposal, it would be subject to Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, and there will be a number of rounds of statutory public consultation, of which today is the first round.” 

Cllr Mike Cornwall asked: “I have seen similar facilities to this around the country and they are normally not built in an urban area.

"Are we aware of any other facilities like this in an urban area and can we learn anything from their experiences?” 

Campaigners against a Wisbech incinerator came out in force alongside Cambs mayor Dr Nik Johnson

Campaigners rallied in Wisbech against the plans to build an incinerator in the town, a rally which Cambridgeshire mayor Dr Nik Johnson attended. - Credit: Terry Harris

Mr Harding replied: “In Peterborough, there is an energy generating facility similar to this which is operated by Peterborough City Council, but it is not on anything like the same scale as this proposal. 

“Just 500m away from that, the Secretary of State has given planning consent for a scheme very much like this application, and that will shortly be breaking ground. 

“From an officer’s perspective, we only comment on the technical aspects of a scheme, and this varies from one project to another. 

“We do look at potential particle pollution from the chimney, transportation links and access, proximity to listed buildings, areas of natural interest and the impact such a scheme could have on urban areas and the ecology.  

“These then could be the principles upon which we might be able to object.” 

Cllr Alex Miscandlon, chairman of Fenland Council, asked if “anybody considered the pollution impact from the expected 362 vehicle movements per day at the site during and after the construction phase?” 

Mr Harding said: “The air quality monitoring stations and air-management zones established a number of years ago would be responsible for keeping an eye on pollution levels. 

“Construction pollution is an aspect that is considered as most of the vehicles going to and from this particular site would be travelling through urban areas.” 

Cllr Jan French said: “I came into this meeting with an open mind about this scheme, but having listened to everything and read the papers I cannot support this.  

“If it was being done in the middle of nowhere, that would be another thing; but in a built-up urban area would be crazy.” 

Committee chairman Cllr David Connor added: “The application, for me, brings absolutely no benefit to Fenland at all. 

“There is no section 106 money to be had, this facility would be built just 750 metres from a school, huge lorries will churn up our already struggling roads… 362 movements a day, seven days a week just can’t be tolerated. 

“I have no problem with people making money, but not at the expense of the people of Fenland. I feel we need to say ‘no’ to this – it just can’t be right for the area.” 

Committee members will now send their comments on the consultation proposal back to the Secretary of State. 

The next round of the consultation process is expected to take place in January 2022.