14 March 2017 by Tom Goulding

Viridor eyes Welsh councils to feed Trident EfW

Viridor’s proposal to source household refuse from across West and Mid-Wales to feed its Trident Park energy from waste facility has received the backing of Cardiff city council’s planning officers.

The business plans to lift a catchment area restriction on the site, while also expanding processing capacity of the facility from 350,000 to 425,000 tonnes per year.

The Trident Park EfW in Cardiff is the only operational energy from waste plant in Wales

Viridor is currently restricted to sourcing waste for the plant from the South East Wales area, but the company argues more Welsh local authorities could benefit from sending their waste to the Cardiff site.

In an FAQ post on its website, Viridor explains that “as with most facilities of this type in the UK, we are seeking to have the catchment area removed. This would mean that waste from adjacent areas could travel the relatively short distance to Trident Park ERF for treatment rather than having to be transported the long distance it is at present”.

Proximity principle

When proposing EfW plants, applicants are typically bound by the ‘proximity principle’ which prefers waste materials to be treated ‘in reasonable proximity to their point of generation’.

But developers are increasingly testing the principle in a bid to source waste from further afield. In its application to remove the catchment area, Viridor cites the Javelin Park in Gloucestershire, Rookery Resource Recovery Facility in Bedfordshire, the Ferrybridge Multifuel Power Station in South Yorkshire and its own Ardley and Avonmouth EfW applications.

While there is no shortage of waste available to fuel these facilities in 2017, each of these plants was able to show how the proximity principle could limit the efficiency of throughput or hinder the diversion of waste from landfill sites.

Cardiff

Opened in 2015, Viridor’s Trident Park remains the only operational EfW plant in Wales – though Wheelabrator’s 200,000 tonnes-per-year Parc Adfer site in Deesside, North Wales, is expected to come online in 2019.

An artist’s impression of the Wheelabrator EfW in Deesside, which will treat waste from North Wales councils

Viridor argues that this creates an opportunity for councils in the West Wales and Mid-Wales regions to send waste to the plant rather than landfill (see letsrecycle.com story).

A report by Cardiff city council planning officers, which will be reviewed by the city council’s planning committee tomorrow (15 March), recommends lifting the restriction and to allow an increase of throughput at the site.

Objections

The proposal has received objections from Cardiff Against The Incinerator and Seel & Co. on behalf of more than 400 residents at Adventurers Quay. Both parties argue the planning variation will mean more air pollution resulting from an increase in traffic.

Cardiff Against the Incinerator argues that ‘more efficient’ gasification plants and MBT processes are in the offing in South East Wales which are a ‘better fit’ to Welsh Government waste policy.

“The removal of the catchment restriction will afford other areas beyond SE Wales the opportunity to divert waste from landfill in accordance with the waste hierarchy.”


Cardiff city council

It adds: “Refusal would not as Viridor assert “result in waste that is suitable for energy recovery continuing to be landfilled”, but waste that is suitable for RDF fuel continuing to supply efficient CHP incinerators in Europe.”

Public Health

However, Public Health Wales has argued there are ‘no grounds’ for objections based on public health considerations and adds that the ‘lower than estimated energy content of the waste fuel’ received at Trident Park means Viridor has the capability to process more waste and recover more energy than it is currently allowed.

The planning committee concludes: “The removal of the catchment restriction will afford other areas beyond SE Wales the opportunity to divert waste from landfill in accordance with the waste hierarchy.”


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