Minister challenged over refusal to call in Plymouth incinerator plans
COMMUNITIES Secretary Eric Pickles has been accused of double standards after failing to intervene over the building of a £140million incinerator in Plymouth.
The Tory Cabinet Minister was challenged in the Commons by Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View Alison Seabeck, over his decision to order an inquiry into proposals for a similar, and equally controversial waste facility in Norfolk.
The Labour politician argued the same criteria had been met to trigger a "call-in" in Plymouth's case.
The development of the energy from waste plant by Germany-based MVV Environment Devonport Limited at North Yard in Plymouth has provoked a storm of protest.
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It will handle up to 245,000 tonnes of rubbish a year from Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon. It is planned to start working in 2014.
The King's Lynn incinerator was given the go-ahead by Norfolk County Council planners in June, but was subsequently "called in" by the Secretary of State due to "substantial regional and national controversy".
It means a public inquiry will now be held with the final decision taken by the Government Minister.
Tackling Mr Pickles at Westminster, Ms Seabeck said: "Can he explain why my constituents, who are now going to have to live 150 metres away from a waste to energy plant, are being treated differently from those in Norfolk?
"The Secretary of State has called in a waste to energy plant in Norfolk; he has not called in the one in Plymouth, despite the fact that it covers three authorities and should therefore be of regional importance."
But responding, the Secretary of State said: "I looked very carefully at her representation, but we call in only where there are national and regional implications.
"None of the statutory undertakers has requested that it be called in. Ultimately, this issue should be dealt with by local people."
Speaking afterwards, Ms Seabeck said the Minister had refused to listen to the thousands of concerned Plymouth residents.
"If it's good enough for Norfolk to be of regional importance then it should be good enough for Plymouth, Devon & Torbay," she said.