Green jobs on horizon for Norfolk

A mill which will significantly increase the UK's capacity to produce recycled newsprint and bring 150 jobs to Norfolk has been proposed by a major paper company.

The Palm Paper Group has announced plans to build the £330m paper mill on the banks of the Great Ouse in King’s Lynn, with hopes to have it up and running towards the end of 2009.

“In the UK we collect approximately 8m tonnes of [paper] waste and only process 4m tonnes, exporting the rest,” Derek Harman, managing director of Palm Paper UK, told edie.

“It does seem that the fibre source is there and from our initial enquiries with waste paper traders there seems to be a lot of interest from suppliers.”

Once operating at full capacity, the mill would produce 550,000 tonnes of newsprint a year.

“We’ll employ 150 people directly and we would think it would create at least that many jobs indirectly,” said Mr Harman.

The proposed plans say the company will seek to employ local people as well as offering apprenticeships and training in all aspects of the paper production industry.

The environmental performance of paper mills can be a prickly subject as they are energy and water intensive facilities which also, by necessity, pump out huge quantities of industrial effluent.

But a UK-based plant would be closely regulated and required to operate to some of the highest environmental standards in the world whilst also reducing the carbon impact of transporting waste paper half way round the world and back again for processing.

“It’s got to have a pretty good carbon footprint,” said Mr Harman.

He said that in recent years the UK had been importing around 100,000 tonnes of newsprint from Germany, for example, which does not make a lot of sense when it can be produced domestically.

The paper mill would be built on brownfield land, the site of a former sugar beet processing factory.

Local planners are likely to make a decision on the development in the autumn.

Sam Bond

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