The Environment Agency has granted an Environmental Permit to the Willows energy from waste plant in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.
This represents the next stage in the development of a facility that has seen a huge amount of local opposition.
Norfolk County Council cabinet member for environment and waste Bill Borrett said: “I welcome this important announcement by the Environment Agency. It is a clear and unequivocal statement by an autonomous and independent statutory authority that the Willows can operate without harming the environment or human health.
“I now hope, that with all the statutory authorities’ opinions about the Willows before us, and opponents’ fears about health and environmental matters shown to be unfounded, the conversation about this proposal can begin to turn to the very significant benefits that this plant will bring to Norfolk in the future. Not least of these are the £8 million a year savings it will bring us – or £200 million over the 25 year contract – compared with the cost of continuing to use landfill.
“I have, frankly, been astonished by some of the claims – mischievously presented as facts – made against the Willows by opponents to the scheme.
“The Environment Agency has reached its decision after consulting widely with key experts and other statutory authorities including the Health Protection Agency, Primary Care Trust and Natural England. It adds to the considerable body of evidence which came forward during the planning process from air pollution experts – including the Borough Council of West Norfolk’s own independent specialists – and NHS Norfolk, that the Willows will pose no significant threat to public health.
“Residents should be reassured by the judgement of these independent health and environmental experts.
“This project has been rigorously scrutinised over many, many months and at every step of the way it has successfully overcome every single hurdle. Today’s decision is yet another crucial step forward for the proposal and there are still critical tests ahead, including the current review by the Secretary of State for Communities of the planning permission for the proposed plant.”