Dr Palm says, Cory Wheelabrator’s Claims Don’t Correspond to Reality
From an early stage, those promoting the waste incinerator identified what they saw as its main benefits. These have been used to promote incineration to the public and planning consultees, and may also have influenced DEFRA’s opinion. One of these apparent benefits was the, ‘Potential to supply cheap heating for local businesses or residents.’
The ability of the incinerator to sell heat in the form of steam is important. If only electricity is produced, the incinerator’s energy output is much lower, and its carbon footprint much larger. The use of steam is called ‘combined heat & power’ or CHP, because both electricity (power) and steam (heat) are used. Palm Paper is the only likely customer for the steam, therefore the potential for it purchasing steam is critical to the project.
In a planning document (page 10) dated 13th January 2012 Norfolk County Council asks Cory Wheelabrator,
“Please provide clarification of the following: whether an alternative user for Combined Heat and Power (CHP) has been identified and in which case, whether it has been assessed.”
In reply Cory Wheelabrator’s planning application says,
“Palm Paper Mill as the single biggest heat user in Norfolk has been identified as a significant potential heat consumer for the Proposal, and discussions regarding Combined Heat and Power (CHP) with Palm Paper at an advanced stage and are ongoing. No alternative heat user, of a similar size and proximity, has been identified in Norfolk or therefore assessed in the ES.”
What’s interesting is the claim that “discussions regarding CHP with Palm Paper at an advanced stage and are ongoing.” It’s interesting, because of a letter from Dr Palm, Chief Executive of Palm Paper;
On 10th April 2012 Dr Palm wrote to a resident. He says,
“We have only accommodated the request for talks by Cory Wheelabrator in as much as we let them explain to us what the project looks like and what their timescale is. They further explained to us how much steam and power will be produced and what they would like to sell to us. They further explained to us at what price they would be able to make the steam available. We have listened to the presentation with interest and then ended the talks; the claims in public about “ongoing” talks definitely do not correspond to reality.”
Dr Palm goes on to say that Palm Paper is considering other options for steam, including buying it from Centrica or generating it in their own CHP plant. He says the decision will only be taken, “…in a few years time…”
So there we have it. Cory Wheelabrator are telling Norfolk County Council there are “ongoing talks” with Palm Paper, and Dr Palm says this statement doesn’t correspond to reality.
Let’s turn now to Norfolk County Council. Imagine you are a County Councillor and you’re planning to spend £500 million of residents’ money on an incinerator. You know it’s more efficient if it sells steam to the Palm Paper Mill, so you’d surely check with Palm Paper in advance, and keep them informed throughout the process. Let’s see what Dr Palm has to say;
“We understand your concerns very well that a lot indicates that the high requirement for steam and power of our paper mill…lead to the Council in Norwich to decide on a location immediately next to our…plant. However, we have most certainly not constructed the mill in King’s Lynn to attract a waste incinerator or to be sited next to such a plant. The Council in Norwich has made its decision only after we constructed the mill. We were not informed about the planning process nor were our views sought. To our great astonishment we found out about it first through the newspaper.”
Dr Palm stresses in his letter that he wishes to remain neutral in the incineration debate, and to be a good neighbour to the people ofKing’s Lynn. All of those with whom we have spoken agree that Dr Palm is an honest and honourable man, and is genuinely concerned about residents’ wishes.
So what does all this mean? Certainly, the numerous references to CHP and steam in the planning application should come with a heavy caveat. We believe the planning application should stress there are no ongoing talks for the use of steam, and neither will a decision be made for several years. Planning consultees and DEFRA should be made aware that Cory Wheelabrator’s claim s of “ongoing” talks are denied by Dr Palm. Why not e-mail Caroline Spelman MP yourself? Other claims in the planning application should be rescrutinised in this context.
In all likelihood, if the incinerator is built, it could end up generating just 20.5 MW of electricity. 5 large wind turbines could produce 25 MW. The incinerator would be far less deserving of the title, “power & recycling centre.” It’s carbon footprint in either CHP or electricity-only mode is larger than all alternatives, including landfill, contrary to what the planning application says. It’s carbon footprint is largest of all if no steam is sold.
NCC should therefore inform all statutory consultees of these implications. They may then have a very different opinion. To fail to do so would undermine the planning process.
Note that: The Environment Agency, in its draft permitting documents, concludes that there are unlikely to be other feasible customers for steam.
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