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Clock ticking on possible legal challenge to £450m Wisbech incinerator

The council’s six-week window to apply for a judicial review of the decision began on February 21

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With the clock ticking – and less than three weeks to the deadline – Fenland District Council is yet to tell the Government that it will appeal its decision to allow a £450m incinerator to be built in Wisbech. “The council has not yet sent a pre-action protocol letter (a letter to the Secretary of State stating the reasons judicial review is being sought),” a council spokesperson said today.

“The council has taken legal advice on this procedural aspect of the process, and it would not be appropriate to engage in pre-action correspondence at this stage, given the timescales to challenge the decision.

“This position will affect neither the council’s ability to seek judicial review nor the timescales for seeking permission from the court.”

Council leader Chris Boden said barristers were researching legal grounds on which a judicial review could be launched.

“The council remains absolutely committed to doing everything in its power to fight this decision on behalf of local people,” he said.

The council’s six-week window to apply for a judicial review of the decision began on February 21.

The council says it will notify residents of its legal challenge “as soon as it is able to do so”.

Site for massive Wisbech incinerator ,  Wisbech Saturday 24 February 2024. Picture by Terry Harris.

Site for massive Wisbech incinerator , Wisbech Saturday 24 February 2024. Picture by Terry Harris.

Cllr Boden said the council were aware of compulsory acquisition letters sent by MVV, the company behind the energy from waste facility, sent to businesses and residents.

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“The council has also been served with the same papers,” he said. “We understand this is very unsettling and distressing for residents, business owners and members of the public in receipt of these letters.

“The council cannot provide legal advice to anyone in receipt of these letters; however, we are in the process of appointing specialist surveyors to assist us with understanding what the letter means for the council’s buildings and assets and how we might wish to respond.”

Fenland Council has been consistent in its refusal to deal with MVV and refused the option of a voluntary agreement to sell the company some land they need.

In 2022 it was confirmed that MVV had offered £723,000 plus up to £5,000 in legal costs to acquire land owned by Fenland Council off Algores Way where the incinerator is proposed.

Throughout the public inquiry, Fenland Council re-iterated its position that they were “not willing to enter into negotiations at this time with the applicant”.

MVV confirmed to the inquiry they remained “willing to discuss the terms of a voluntary agreement with Finland District Council should it change its position”.

Fenland Council is advising those affected by compulsory purchase orders to get their own advice from “one of the relevant professional bodies such as The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Law Society to ensure they take the most appropriate action for their own individual circumstances.”

The council says it will not be providing a “running commentary” on its legal challenges until the process is concluded.

 

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