A quick update on the mega incinerator proposal for Wisbech, which I strongly oppose. Having spent time reading papers from the developer, enclosed are 10 initial questions:
The developer says this scheme is a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP), which is how they avoid a local planning decision, as was required at Kings Lynn. The scheme needs to generate over 50 megawatts of energy to qualify as a national project. The report talks of taking waste from “surrounding counties” in order to meet this threshold. To put this in context, it is twice the size of the Kings Lynn incinerator proposal that was rejected and twice the size of the developers next largest incinerator in Plymouth which powers the naval ship yard at Devonport. If it will not generate over 50 megawatts, it should not be a NSIP scheme.
2) Visual impact
The incinerator will have a chimney up to a massive 95 metres high (to put this in context Ely Cathedral spire is 66 metres), and the boiler house will be up to 50 metres high. Across the flat Fens it will be visible for miles.
3) Proximity to schools and The Eye Clinic
The incinerator will be just 200 metres from one school, 500 metres from another, and 750 metres from the largest secondary school in our district, Thomas Clarkson Academy. The Eye Clinic is just 350 metres away.
4) Alternative Sites
The Planning Inspectors Advice (PINS Advice Note Seven) recommends the developer outline “reasonable alternatives considered and the reasons for selecting the preferred option”, but the developer has failed to do so.
- Why does the scoping request fail to include valid alternative locations? What alternative sites / solutions were considered? What is the methodology for site selection and when will it be published in line with best practice? How did it consider sensitive receptors like schools, community impact like odour and noise, and visual impact?
The scoping request was issued over the Christmas holiday period, yet the report reveals that “the Inspectorate queried whether the scoping request would be premature given the current stage of development”.
6) Traffic impact
The developer suggests the incinerator will require lorry movements 7 days a week from 6am to 7pm. Yet almost all the roads in Fenland are single carriageway. The incinerator will require over half a million tonnes of waste, with the report suggesting 523,500 tonnes a year.
7) Flood Risk
The incinerator will be built on land at risk of flooding (known as Flood Risk 3). Yet the developer is silent on the risk this causes of contamination including to drinking water, in addition to any risk of soil contamination during the construction phase.
- Why is flood risk land suitable for a waste incinerator when the Environment Agency has raised concerns at house building on such land? What is the risk of contamination in the event of flooding?
8) Wisbech Rail
Later this month the Cambridgeshire Combined Authority will publish its 15-month long report on the next phase of work for Wisbech Rail, yet the incinerator developer appears to plan to dig up the Wisbech Rail line for a Combine Heat and Power (CHP) connection.
9) Electrical Connection
The developer suggests two proposed options for connection, a 132kv line at the Walpole substation and one joining the National Grid 400kv line to the east of Walsoken. Yet it is not clear whether these are part of the Development Consent Order (DCO).
- What impact will this have on the local community, and is it part of the DCO?
10) Compulsory Purchase
The developer says they have an option on the main site from the current owners, and that it is used for aggregate storage, but then add that compulsory acquisition may be required to obtain land outside of this main site.
- What land does the developer plan to compulsory purchase, on what basis, and from whom, in order to build an incinerator of the scale required for its designation as a national infrastructure project?