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Network Rail fights compulsory land buy-up to keep Wisbech rail hope alive

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Network Rail has thrown down the gauntlet and told German backers of a proposed £300m energy from waste incinerator at Wisbech- ‘you’re not getting our land without a fight’.

Medworth CHP Ltd – 50.1 per cent owned by the city council of Mannheim, Germany – told the Government Planning Inspectorate it may need to use compulsory purchase orders to acquire land in Wisbech.

Network Rail say they own 13 plots of land and of these compulsory purchase orders are being sought for 12 of them.

“The compulsory acquisition powers sought are described as being compulsory acquisition and temporary use of land and acquisition of new rights,” says Network Rail.

And that includes proposals by Medworth CHP to compulsorily buy “operational railway land forming part of the disused but operational railway being the March to Wisbech Line.

“Although the line is currently not in use, Network Rail intends to reopen the line in the near future”.

Medworth CHP propose running an overground pipeline along the eastern edge of the Network Rail says they claim the scheme has been designed so as not to prevent the reopening of the line.

Network Rail says it “has concerns around the safety aspect of running the pipeline alongside an operational railway.

“Medworth CHP also proposes that the currently disused level crossing on New Bridge Lane will form part of the main site access for the scheme”.

Network Rail objects to the inclusion of the plots in the compulsory purchase proposals.

It says the land they own is there for a purpose which is to fulfil its statutory undertaking.

“Network Rail considers that there is no compelling case in the public interest for the acquisition of the compulsory powers,” it says in a statement to the Planning Inspectorate.

Network Rail believes the Government cannot conclude that new rights and restrictions over the railway land can be created without serious detriment to Network Rail’s undertaking.

“No other land is available which means that the detriment can be made good by them,” says Network Rail.

They also object “to all other compulsory powers to the extent that they affect, and may be exercised in relation to, Network Rail’s property and interests”.

Network Rail says that to be in a position to withdraw its objection, they require agreements with Medworth CHP that regulate:

1: The manner in which rights over the plots and any other railway property are acquired.

2: The relevant works are carried out including terms which protect Network Rail’s statutory undertaking and agreement that compulsory acquisition powers will not be exercised in relation to such land

3: The carrying out of works in the vicinity of the operational railway network to safeguard Network Rail’s statutory undertaking

4: Agreement that compulsory powers will not be exercised

MVV Environment Ltd plans to develop a new energy from waste combined heat and power facility generating electricity and steam on land at Algores Way, Wisbech.

If successful, a new company, to be called ‘MVV Environment Medworth,’ will be looking to employ local people to help build, operate, and maintain the facility.

The proposed energy from waste combined heat and power facility will divert over half a million tonnes of non-recyclable waste from landfill every year, generating over 50 megawatts of electricity and offering the opportunity to supply steam to local factories.

The development includes not just the energy from waste facility but also the connections to the electricity grid and industrial heat users, and some modifications to the road network.

The total investment will be over £300 million, and it is anticipated that construction will take around three years, during this time employing up to 700 people.

Some 700 objections are being considered by the Planning Inspectorate.




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