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Norfolk ends waste contract after planning delays

Words: Huw Morris
Recycling plant

Norfolk County Council is terminating its £600 million waste contract due to a failure to secure satisfactory planning permission and escalating costs.

The council awarded a 25-year contract to Cory Wheelabrator in March 2011 to build and operate a power and recycling centre at the Willows Business Park in Saddlebow, near King's Lynn.

The planning application for the plant was called in by the government in August 2012. Following a planning inquiry last year, communities secretary Eric Pickles said a decision would be made on or before 14 January 2014 but no decision has been announced and a report to the council's cabinet meeting recommended termination of the contract to minimise the financial impact of continuing delays, rising costs and increasing costs.

When the contract was signed, savings of more than £250 million were guaranteed compared to landfill. The report said Pickles's failure to make a decision was costing around £140,000 a day and the projected savings would have disappeared by June.

The cost of terminating the contract is estimated to be £30.26 million. The council agreed to meet these costs through a £19 million contingency reserve, £3 million from a budget under-spend in 2013-14 and £8 million from reserves.