Covanta begins Rookery South operations

Covanta has begun operations at the Rookery South energy from waste (EfW) plant in Bedfordshire after a three-year construction phase.

Covanta now has a larger share in the Rookery South facility

Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI), the principal contractor on the site, has handed the 545,000 tonnes per year capacity facility over to Covanta’s operations team, who are now responsible for all site-based operations.

Veolia, which owns a 20% stake in the plant, will provide the facility with most of its waste under a “long term contract”.

The rest will be sourced through other commercial, industrial and municipal counterparties.

The remaining 80% of the plant is split equally between American waste management company Covanta and the Green Investment Group (GIG).

This was a construction project like no other in recent times

  • Owen Michaelson, president of Covanta Europe

Challenge

Owen Michaelson, president of Covanta Europe, said: “With Brexit and the unwanted arrival of Covid-19, this was a construction project like no other in recent times.

“However, with the expertise and engineering excellence of HZI working with all the various local and international contractors and suppliers into the project, we have collectively steered the construction programme through some of the most challenging conditions an infrastructure project could possibly face.”

The facility is treating municipal, commercial and non-hazardous industrial residual waste as fuel to generate over 60 megawatts of baseload electrical energy – enough to power the equivalent of over 112,500 homes.

Permit

While the construction phase went smoothly for the plant, it comes after a long planning process spanning more than a decade.

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

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 letsrecycle.com story).

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

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