West Norfolk council set to launch legal action to block building of incinerator

West Norfolk council looks set to take the fight to stop an incinerator being built to court.

Councillors are being asked to set aside �150,000 to fund judicial review.

A report to councillors sets out a “strategic approach” for stepping up its campaign against the Norfolk County Council-backed proposal.

More than 65,000 people voted against plans to build the plant at Saddlebow, near King’s Lynn.

But the county council cabinet ignored the referendum and awarded Cory Wheelabrator the contract to build and run the “energy from waste” scheme.

Cory will need to obtain planning permission before it can go ahead. But the county council is the planning authority.

And a report to councillors says agreeing a �20m penalty clause with Cory if the incinerator does not go ahead could be grounds for a judicial review.

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The report says: “Members will be aware that judicial review action may result in the council incurring significant costs (if unsuccessful) and there can of course be no guaranteee of success.

“It will therefore be necessary to make budgetary provision available in order to meet this eventuality. It is not possible at this stage to accurately estimate the likely level of costs which may be incurred, however at this stage a budget of �150,000 should be established.”

The report says “appropriately experienced” lawyers should be engaged to assist the council’s in-house legal team.

The report also says: “A strategy needs to be devised to build on opposition to the scheme, in order to seek to persuade the county council not to press ahead with the project as currently devised or alternatively to secure a call-in.

“The technical, legal and political case needs to be fully explained to the public by effective communications. It is equally important that public interest and involvement in the issue is maintained and built up and that residents are enabled to engage fully in all aspects of the process.

“It will be a difficult, complex and drawn-out process seeking to give effect to the clearly-expressed will of the public of West Norfolk that a large waste incinerator should not be built, as proposed, at the Willows Business Park.”

The latest revelation comes days after supporters of the incinerator claimed that the government was behind the proposals.

With at least 15 anti-incinerator candidates standing in next months local elections, the issue looks likely to dominate the polls.

Councillors meet to agree whether to approve the �150,000 legal fund on Thursday.