PRESS RELEASE: Cory Wheelabrator’s Telephone Poll – Conflict Between Evidence Presented to NCC/DEFRA and Witness Accounts

October 23rd, 2013GeneralKLWIN 0 Comments

“If they had known the facts about the survey, I am sure the Government would not have offered £169 million funding. Without such a huge subsidy Cabinet would never have signed up for such an expensive contract. Ultimately if it had not been for this crucial survey ‘evidence’ Norfolk would not be tied in to a contract costing millions of pounds regardless of whether it goes ahead.”

“I would like to know which of our County Councillors, would have signed the contract while knowing the facts behind the survey? Did any of them know?”

Mike Knights Vice Chairman KLWIN

 

A telephone poll was held by ComRes in February 2011, which was commissioned by Cory Wheelabrator, who used the results to claim public support for the incinerator. The official questions/telephone script and the results were presented to NCC, DEFRA and the Secretary of State.

 However, a second ‘conflicting script’ contains a question (number 4) that differs from the official version.

 

Question 4 in the ‘official’ questionnaire says: -

4) For waste that cannot be, or is not being, recycled or composted, which of the following disposal options do you prefer?

  • Generating energy from the incineration of waste;
  • Landfill;
  • More recycling;
  • Composting;
  • Better packaging
  • Don’t know

 

Question 4 in the ‘conflicting questionnaire says: -

4) For waste that cannot be, or is not being, recycled or composted, which of the following disposal options do you prefer?

  • Landfill
  • Generating energy from the incineration of waste
  • Other (please specify)
  • Don’t know (unprompted).

 

Evidence Indicates ‘Conflicting Script’ Was Used, NOT the ‘Official’ Script

  • An affidavit from Witness A says they were called by the telephone survey, and were given the options ‘landfill or ‘incineration’ or ‘other.’
  • An affidavit from Witness B, says they were called by the telephone survey and were first given the options, ‘incineration, landfill or other’, while on a second occasion given the options ‘incineration and landfill’.
  • An affidavit from Witness C states that the ‘conflicting script’, which corresponds to witness accounts, was obtained from John Bolden of Cory Environmental.

 

Context

 

  • Before Norfolk County Council (NCC) could receive £91 million of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funds for its waste incinerator proposal it had to satisfy PFI criteria; one being a “broad consensus” of support (criterion 6).
  • NCC’s incinerator contractor, Cory Wheelabrator (CW), commissioned the ComRes telephone survey (February 2011), which both NCC and CW claim demonstrates public support.
  • This was supplied to NCC as part of Cory Wheelabrator’s ‘Statement of Community Engagement’ (pages 14 and 29), itself part of the Planning Application to NCC.
  • This survey was also sent by Mike Jackson NCC to DEFRA’s Neil Thornton on 12/01/11, as ‘evidence’ forming part of a lobbying effort to release PFI credits. This was shortly before the Secretary of State Caroline Spelman MP awarded the funds (18/01/12).
  • NCC awarded the £596 million contract to Cory Wheelabrator only after the PFI funding was awarded.
  • The ComRes survey (in the Statement of Community Engagement) was also used at the Public Inquiry. John Bolden’s evidence to the Public Inquiry also referred to the ComRes survey.
  • In March 2011 a tactical plan from PPS (Cory Wheelabrator’s PR company) was leaked to the press. It showed the strategy behind the ComRes Survey. The company withdrew its participation from the Borough Council’s official referendum. The strategy said “We need to suggest that our absence from the referendum undermines the moral value of it and that it carries no legal value in any event.”
  • NCC fears that if it fails to approve Cory Wheelabrator’s (CW) ‘Revised Project Plan’ CW may use contractual penalties to claim millions of compensation. The critical date is Monday  28th October, when if NCC fails to approve it, penalties are limited to £26 million.

 

 

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