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An international leader in the environmental sector, Urbaser operates more than 200 waste management facilities, including eight energy-from-waste (EfW) facilities, and processes around seven million tonnes of waste every year. Urbaser serves more than 50 million people worldwide with 35,000 employees.
Balfour Beatty is a world-class infrastructure services business, operating in four strong and substantial areas of business: professional services, construction services, support services and infrastructure investments.
European law means that we cannot continue to rely on landfill to dispose of our waste and we must look at alternative options for its management. Waste in landfill sites generates methane which is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
Landfill Tax is also continuing to rise – it is currently £64 per tonne and will rise to £80 by 2014. Gloucestershire County Council has estimated that a new residual waste facility will save the Council £150 million over the 25 year contract when compared with landfill.
The District Councils and the County Council have all agreed a target to recycle and compost a minimum of 60% of household waste by 2020. Gloucestershire County Council’s aspiration is to achieve 70% recycling by 2030. However, this still leaves approximately 150,000 tonnes of waste per year to be treated by 2040.
The facility will help increase recycling by recovering metals that would have ended up in landfill. In addition, the Incinerator Bottom Ash (the glass, ceramics and stones that fall out of the bottom of the grate following combustion of the waste) will be recycled for use in the construction industry.
Urbaser Balfour Beatty’s proposal is for an energy-from-waste facility with an Education/Visitor Centre and wildlife zone. The facility will treat all of the residual household waste generated in Gloucestershire and collected by the District Councils. This will make the county self-sufficient in terms of waste treatment capacity; keep “waste miles” down and support recycling through recovery of metals and Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA).
Gloucestershire County Council considered all available sites in the county in the Waste Local Plan (adopted 2004). Of these, we identified Javelin Park as a suitable site for an energy-from-waste facility based on a number of planning and environmental criteria, including its proximity to the major road network and proximity to the main sources of waste within the county.
After reduce, reuse, recycle, the recovery of energy from waste is considered to be the most sustainable option. EfW has a number of benefits:
The EfW technology we are proposing has been selected because it has a sound operational record, and can be relied upon to deliver the above benefits. In particular we are proposing a facility that will provide consistently low emissions, high energy recovery, additional recycling, and high diversion from landfill.
The specific technology chosen for each aspect of the (combustion) process will use Best Available Techniques (BAT). A BAT assessment will be reviewed by the Environmental Agency as part of the Environmental Permit Application.
The rated output of the facility will be 14.5MW and it will produce 116,000 MWh/year (megawatt hours per year) of electricity. The facility will therefore generate the equivalent electrical energy to power 25,000 homes.
A small amount of the energy generated will be used to power the facility. The remainder will be exported to the National Grid – Gloucestershire County Council will benefit from the sale of this electricity, offsetting the costs of the project and therefore costs to the tax payer.
The facility will be designed as a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant, so that as well as generating electricity, heat can be used by neighbouring industrial users. Urbaser Balfour Beatty are investigating the opportunities for the export of heat to neighbouring industrial and other potential users.
Modern EfW technology is very different to the old-style waste incinerators. Modern EfW technology has been recognised by the UK and EU as safe for the environment and human health.
All EfW facilities must now comply with European legislation that sets stringent limits on emissions. EfW is a tried and tested technology and there are currently more than 350 energy-from-waste plants operating throughout Europe. The facility’s operations and emissions will be monitored and regulated by the Environment Agency.
Specifically the potential impacts of emissions from the facility on human health will be assessed in a Human Health Impact Assessment. This assessment will be reviewed by both the local Planning Authority and the Environment Agency as part of the planning and environmental permitting process. If the impact is regarded as unacceptable the plant will not gain planning permission or an Environmental Permit.
Energy-from-waste facilities by their nature are quite large buildings. However, our design seeks to minimise the visual impact of the facility through the use of efficient design techniques and use of carefully considered building materials. We have consulted with Gloucestershire County Council and the Design Council to ensure the design is suitable and addresses comments received from stakeholders.
We have undertaken detailed modelling of weather patterns and the local topography. Guidelines set by the Environment Agency then determine the height of the chimney to ensure that there is sufficient dispersion of emissions. The chimney is proposed to be 70m high.
The facility has been designed so that it is sympathetic to the surrounding environment, and as such incorporates ‘staggered’ or ‘deconstructed’ descending roof sections. The highest point of the facility will be nearest to the M5 motorway where the roof will peak at 48.5 metres in height. The heights of the three middle building sections are 43 metres, 34.5 metres and 21.9 metres respectively, and the roof level immediately facing the B4008 is considerably lower at 15.65 metres. At its widest point, the building will be 55 metres, and the entire facility is 236 metres in length. The chimney behind the facility facing the M5 motorway will be 70 metres.
We have undertaken detailed transport modelling to minimise “waste miles” and the impacts of additional traffic. As the site is close to the main road network the majority of the waste will be brought in via the M5 and A38. Only local refuse and recycling collection vehicles will pass through the local villages, as currently happens. Current restrictions on heavy goods vehicle (HGV) access to local roads will ensure that large waste trucks will not pass through local villages on their route to and from the proposed facility. HGV waste deliveries would be limited to 0700 - 1900 hours, and the majority of deliveries will occur outside of peak rush hour periods.
No. All incoming waste will be stored inside the building where the odour will be managed. The air that is drawn into the building is fed through the furnace where it is combusted, destroying odours. Waste will not be held at the facility for long periods of time so the chance of bad odour is minimal.
No. The process itself is not noisy although motors that drive fans and pumps do create some noise. The noise will be reduced by the use of acoustic enclosures and earth bunding along the eastern edge of the site. Strict limits on noise are likely to be imposed by the Planning Authority and the plant will have to demonstrate compliance with these limits.
A Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) has been prepared as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment. This complies with the requirements of the Environment Agency and ensures that the development will not increase the risk of flooding in the local area. The FRA takes into account predicted changes as a result of climate change.
Measures included in the design to ensure that the development does not increase flood risk in the local area include retaining the watercourse that flows around the southern and western perimeter of the site and introducing a number of surface water ponds into the landscaping design. These ponds will be used to control the volume of surface water released into the adjacent watercourse during rainfall events.
There will be the opportunity for local residents to join a Community Liaison Group (CLG) as well as to get involved in our proposals for the Visitor Centre.
The CLG will be made up of representatives of the local community with reports and presentations from the meetings being made available to read and download here. If you are interested in joining the CLG please contact us.
Following the decision made by Gloucestershire’s Planning Committee on 21 March 2013 to refuse planning permission, UBB is considering its options. UBB remains contracted to treat all of Gloucestershire’s residual waste.