The cabinet of Norfolk County Council has announced that opponents of the King’s Lynn energy from waste facility will be invited to select the “independent” legal and financial advisers to conduct a review into how the council can exit its contract with Cory Wheelabrator.
In what appears to be a strange move, the council said that an independent body will be asked to select three QCs to conduct the review, and then in order to secure consensus, opponents of the Willows facility will be invited to select and appoint the advisors from this panel of three.
Leader of the Council George Nobbs said: “It is vital that independent reports are commissioned to ensure councillors are in possession of the fullest possible information before taking a final decision. But with so many people believing that this project has been shrouded in secrecy, we feel it is only right that they themselves are able to play a part in choosing the person who will conduct the review, so there can be no question about their autonomy.
“We will now start the ball rolling by asking a respected independent body to put forward the names of three suitably qualified QCs. Representatives of those opposed to the Willows will then be able to select a candidate who can carry out the review in line with the recommendations of the Cabinet Scrutiny Committee, safe in the knowledge that their conclusions can not be questioned on grounds of lack of independence.
“Separately, we will ask the District Auditor to supply the name of three suitably qualified financial bodies to review the financial costs associated with the contract.
“Commissioning these independent reviews is going to involve a lot of extra cost to the Norfolk taxpayer but that is the will of the council’s cabinet scrutiny committee and we will carry it out.
“In the final analysis, this is the price we have to pay in order to have open and transparent decision making and if it enables the council to satisfy its critics on a matter which has bedevilled it for so long, and for Norfolk to move on, it will, in the long run, be well worth it.
“We are going the extra mile with our offer to the energy from waste opponents. The ball is now in their court.”