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Experts to defend air quality impact of Norfolk incinerator

Air quality expert from environmental consultancy Ricardo AEA to be questioned on evidence that Kings Lynn incinerator will not harm public health

Norfolk county council will today (March 14) defend controversial plans to build an energy-from-waste incinerator in the region, with experts set to tell a public inquiry that the area’s air quality will not be harmed.

The seven-week inquiry is being lead by the Planning Inspectorate and will inform the final decision of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles as to whether planning consent should be granted for the Willows Power & Recycling Centre, near Kings Lynn. Mr Pickles called the plans in for scrutiny in June 2012.

An artist's impression of the proposed Willows facility

An artist’s impression of the proposed Willows facility

The inquiry, which began on February 26, has already heard representations from experts speaking on behalf of the contractor Cory-Wheelabrator, which countered claims that the plant would lead to excessive emissions caused by the burning of waste and increased traffic in the area.

Opponents to the 268,000 tonne a year capacity incinerator, including the campaign group Kings Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN) and Kings Lynn and West Norfolk borough council, claim that the plant will damage air quality and say alternative technologies to incineration will be more cost effective for the council.

Norfolk county council is due to begin presenting its evidence to the inquiry at the West Norfolk Professional Development Centre today. Its evidence includes representations from air quality expert Mark Broomfield of environmental consultancy Ricardo AEA. Mr Broomfield will discuss the impact on the combustion of waste on air quality and public health.

In his summary proof of evidence, published ahead of the hearing by the Planning Inspectorate, Mr Broomfield claims that the plant “would not result in an unacceptable impact on air quality or health, and can be dealt with by condition or other controlsâ€? and that the facility does conform with local and national planning policies relating to air quality.

In conclusion, his submission adds, “there are no air quality or health reasons which would justify refusal planning permission.â€? Mr Broomfield’s submission will be cross-examined by the planning inspector in charge of the hearing, Ken Smith.

Speaking last week on behalf of the contractor Cory Wheelabrator, Daniel Smyth, senior director at specialist centre for air quality RPS, told the planning inspector that air quality effects of the facility would be ‘insignificant’.

Mr Smyth carried out air quality assessments which included modelling of the atmospheric emissions from the chimney stack as well as emissions from operational road vehicles, and emissions of dust and metals from the incinerator bottom ash recycling area.

In his submission on the likely emissions from the chimney stack, Mr Smyth said: “The assessment demonstrated that even assuming worst case emissions from the stack at 100% of the long-term and short-term EU WID emissions limits, the residual effects from the operation of the Proposal are not significant.â€?

And, on emissions from operational vehicles transporting waste to the plant, he commented that change would be “at worst, imperceptible.â€?

The hearing is scheduled to run until April 19 and will also hear submissions from opponents KLWIN and Kings Lynn and West Norfolk borough council.

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