Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet yesterday voted to terminate its waste contract with Cory Wheelabrator on the grounds of failure to secure satisfactory planning permission.
The decision was taken by the Council following an Extraordinary Meeting of the Full Council, and members voted 49 to 29 (with one abstention) in favour of terminating the contract, which centred on the construction of an energy from waste plant close to King’s Lynn in West Norfolk, and which had been at the centre of much debate since the outset.
The cost of terminating the contract is estimated to be £30.26m, comprising capped compensation to the project’s consortium – Cory Wheelabrator – of £20.3m, contractor public inquiry costs of £1.6m and exchange rate and interest rate related costs of £8.36m. Cabinet agreed that these costs should be met through a £19m contingency reserve built up for the purpose, £3m from the council’s 2013/14 under spend, and £8m from general reserves, on the basis that the council takes immediate steps to replenish those reserves. Cabinet will consider the options at its meeting on 12 May.
A statement from Norfolk County Council explained: “In August 2012 the planning application for the plant was called in for determination by the Government. Following a planning inquiry last year (2013), the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, said a decision would be made on or before 14 January 2014. No decision has been announced, and a report to today’s (Monday) Cabinet meeting recommended termination of the contract to minimise the potential financial impact of continuing delay, rising costs and increasing risks.”
Initially savings of more than £250m were guaranteed over the 23 years, compared to landfill, but the latest report to the Council stated that the above failure to make a decision was costing around £140,000 a day. It said that by June 2014 the projected savings would have disappeared completely.
This comes on top of the Government’s decision last November to withdraw £169m of funding for the project, known as the Willows power and recycling centre, over the duration of the contract.
And only last week there was the news that Suffolk County Council had offered Norfolk the chance to send part of its excess capacity waste to a new energy from waste plant being built near Ipswich, following the news that the King’s Lynn plant could be scrapped.