Commissioning ramped up at Rookery South

Covanta says it expects its Rookery South energy from waste (EfW) plant in Bedfordshire to be operational “early next year” after ramping up the commissioning process this month.

An aerial photo of the Rookery South EfW plant from June 2021 (picture: Covanta)

Once operational, the plant will process more than 545,000 tonnes of solid municipal, commercial and non-hazardous industrial waste to generate more than 60 megawatts of energy.

Veolia owns a 20% stake in the facility, while the remaining 80% is split equally between American waste management company Covanta and the Green Investment Group (GIG).

The plant’s principal contractor, Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI), began hot commissioning at the facility in April. In June, HZI began steam purging activities.

Earlier this month, Covanta said the plant had reached a “significant milestone in its commissioning activities” when it processed waste for the first time. The waste was supplied by Veolia.

Tony McShane, Covanta’s vice president and senior UK project director, told yesterday (12 August): “We’re delighted to have reached the major milestones with plant commissioning, the first waste deliveries and the first waste fire at the Rookery South Energy Recovery Facility.

“The construction programme remains on schedule, and we expect the facility to be fully operational early next year.”

Rookery South

Plans for the Rookery South facility were first submitted all the way back in 2010 (see story).

Construction at the site began in 2019

The plant received planning approval under the UK’s Development Consent Order procedures for the delivery of nationally important infrastructure projects in 2013.

The Environment Agency awarded the plant a permit in 2018 despite approximately 3,300 responses to its consultation, many of them negative, from members of the public (see story).

In March 2019, Covanta, the GIG and Veolia reached financial close at the plant, enabling full site construction works to begin (see story).

The Court of Appeal dismissed campaign group Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator’s efforts to have Rookery South’s permit quashed in November 2019 (see story).


Veolia is to supply the plant with most of its waste under a “long-term contract”, with the rest sourced through other commercial, industrial and municipal counterparties.

Under a £102 million contract signed with Veolia in August 2020, Norfolk county council is to send waste to Rookery South (see story). Veolia will also send as much as 40,000 tonnes of residual waste per year as part of a short-term contract signed with Hertfordshire county council (see story).

The facility will create 50 new permanent operational roles when it comes online in 2022, Covanta says. During construction, it has provided more than 300 jobs.


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