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Suffolk: Incinerator set to burn waste from north Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 13:34 17 July 2014 | UPDATED: 13:34 17 July 2014

The incinerator at Blakenham has now started operating - with pink smoke emerging during early testing. Photo: Gavin Hodge

The incinerator at Blakenham has now started operating - with pink smoke emerging during early testing. Photo: Gavin Hodge

Gavin Hodge

Suffolk’s new incinerator is to burn tens of thousands of tonnes of waste from north Norfolk and Great Yarmouth, it was confirmed today.

Earlier this year we revealed that Suffolk County Council (SCC) was in negotiations with Norfolk to take some of that county’s waste when the incinerator – or energy-from-waste plant – is fully operational at the end of the summer.

Now a deal has been signed between the two authorities for Suffolk to take 40,000 tonnes of waste – a fifth of Norfolk’s non-recyclable rubbish – a year for at least two years.

It is expected to save both councils about £1million a year – Suffolk will see economies of scale from the plant burning more waste and Norfolk will pay less in landfill tax.

The incinerator is just starting operations in Great Blakenham and is designed to handle up to 269,000 tonnes of waste each year.

SCC is committed to sending 170,000 tonnes for treatment – meaning there is capacity to take more waste from local councils and private companies in the East of England.

The operator of the Great Blakenham plant, SITA UK, is seeking further contracts to make sure it runs to maximum efficiency.

Most of the waste that will be sent to Suffolk is currently sent to Aldeby landfill site near Beccles, and comes from households in north Norfolk and Great Yarmouth.

The waste will instead be transported to Suffolk from next month, and will arrive in eight HGVs per day, using designated lorry routes.

The contrast between the Suffolk and Norfolk incinerators could not be greater – while that in Blakenham has now started operating, Norfolk’s proposal for a plant at Kings Lynn led to years of controversy before the plans were finally abandoned at a potentially massive cost earlier this year.

SCC leader Mark Bee said: “We have always believed that our Energy from Waste facility is a good environmental solution for Suffolk and great for the tax payer.

“The contract will save £8m by stopping waste going into landfill in Suffolk, so I am delighted to add to that figure in a way that financially benefits both our councils.

“Today demonstrates yet another way we’re working in close partnership with Norfolk; this deal is not only good news for both county councils, but for all those living in Norfolk and Suffolk.”

George Nobbs, Norfolk County Council’s leader, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with my fellow leader in Suffolk and set up this new and historic way of sharing services between our counties.

“This deal demonstrates unequivocally that local authorities like us have the determination, the will, the ability and the maturity to share their services where such arrangements will bring mutual benefits. That is certainly the case with this agreement.”

The move was given a cautious welcome by Blakenham county councillor John Field.

He said: “We have always known they would need to bring in more waste than Suffolk can provide, and so long as the lorries stick to the approved route and don’t go through the village itself then there should not be anything to worry about.

“I was worried about the plant at first, but it seems to have been accepted by most people.”

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