Published: Friday, 15th July 2022
The Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk is preparing the first stage of its response to Medworth CHP Limited’s application to build a waste incinerator near Wisbech.
Along with other local authorities, the borough council has already stated its opposition to the scheme. In February 2021 a motion to the council opposing the incinerator secured overwhelming agreement among elected members and, earlier this year, Norfolk County Council came out in opposition as well.
The company has submitted its proposal to the Planning Inspectorate, which will first decide whether to accept the plan for consideration. As part of that decision, all statutory consultees (e.g. district councils) are asked whether the applicant has met their statutory obligation to conduct appropriate consultation.
Councillor Stuart Dark MBE, leader of the borough council, said: “Technically, we are being asked whether the applicant has met their legal obligations in doing what they said they were going to do with regard to consultation. But for us there is so much more to it than doing the legal minimum.
“10 years ago a plan to build a smaller incinerator at Saddlebow was put forward. Local feeling was strong – it is a subject that still resonates on the doorstep – and now another proposal has been submitted in a nearby area where prevailing winds will drift over this borough. Bearing in mind this background, I believe all this concern and wider impact should have been taken into account when setting the parameters and geographical area of the consultation in determining who should be consulted.
“We aren’t the decision maker for this application, that is the Government’s Planning Inspectorate. But, as a statutory consultee, we will be scrutinising this extremely carefully to ensure that our residents’ views are heard at every stage. And to ensure that this is a fully transparent process we are taking it to our planning committee for them to consider.
The application, by Medworth CHP Limited, is for a Combined Heat and Power Waste Facility near Wisbech. It was submitted on 7 July for consideration by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (as opposed to the local authority, which deals with most planning applications) as it is considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.
Before the Planning Inspectorate will consider the application it will first decide whether or not to accept it. It has 28 days from receipt of the application to do this.
During this period it will consider a consultation report from the applicant, which must set out the consultation processes undertaken, the responses to that consultation and how the applicant has taken account of those responses. The Planning Inspectorate also contacts local authorities covering the area where the facility will be based and the local authorities that neighbour it, including the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk. It invites these authorities to submit an ‘Adequacy of Consultation Representation’, which the Planning Inspectorate will take into account when deciding whether or not to accept the application.
The Adequacy of Consultation Representation asks those authorities whether the applicant has complied with its duties for consultation and publicity as set out in the Planning Act 2008. It does not ask for a response to the application, nor should such a response be submitted at this time. It only asks whether, in the view of the local authority, the applicant has met its legal obligations for consultation in relation to its proposal. Local authorities have 14 days to respond to the Planning Inspectorate from receipt.
In west Norfolk the planning committee will discuss this as part of the development of the council’s response. The report has been published today (15 July) and will be discussed at committee on 20 July.
The borough council will have an opportunity, as a consultee, to give its full response to the application in due course.