King’s Lynn Incinerator

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:37 pm on 16th January 2013.

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Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 4:37 pm, 16th January 2013

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that it would be preferable to have that support. We do need to recognise—this is not unique to incineration—that certain facilities that are required in every area of the country will never be popular among their neighbours. This facility may well be one of them, but what is absolutely the case is that there needs to be a thorough process to gain an understanding of the answers to the following questions. Is this is the right facility? Is it the right technology? Is it a necessary facility? Is it of the right scale and, critically, is it in the right place? Is the operator, as my hon. Friend has asked, a fit and proper operator? All those questions will be explored—should be explored—by the county council in putting together its plans and will be explored, to the extent that they are planning issues, in the planning inquiry.

The timetable for the public inquiry procedure is designed to enable the application to proceed quickly and fairly. I understand that the inquiry will commence on 26 February and it is envisaged that it will run until 19 April. My hon. Friend has made clear the extent and the strength of local feeling in his constituency and beyond its borders about the application. He has set out some compelling arguments about the particular facility and the people running it, as well as the alternatives that he and his constituents believe could do the job that is required for Norfolk’s waste, without bringing the impact on communities that he so fears. That public inquiry will give him and the people he represents so capably every opportunity to develop those views, to put their arguments and to have them tested by a planning inspector. That is what will inform a decision that the Secretary of State will ultimately make. I cannot promise my hon. Friend, of course, that the decision will be one that he will welcome, but I can promise him that the process of arriving at that decision will be thorough and open and will give his constituents and him every opportunity to make their case.