Green light for £65m Barnsley waste wood to energy plant

Peel Environmental’s plans to develop a £65 million waste wood gasification facility on a former coal mine in Yorkshire have been given planning permission by Barnsley metropolitan borough council.

Members of the council’s planning board voted to approve the plans last week (June 2), which will see a 20MW Renewable Energy Centre capable of processing 150,000 tonnes of waste wood each year built on the former Houghton Main Colliery in Barnsley.

An artist’s impression of Peel’s proposed Houghton Main Colliery facility

Here, waste wood materials will be placed into a chamber and heated to high temperatures in a low oxygen environment to produce syngas, which is in turn used to produce steam to power an energy-generating turbine.

Situated close to Little Houghton, the plant will use an advanced gasification process to generate enough energy to power around 49,000 homes.

A timetable for the plant’s construction and opening have not yet been confirmed, but the firm said the development would provide up to 25 jobs during operation and 200 jobs during the construction phase.

No announcement has yet been made about any deals to supply the waste wood, but a spokesman for Peel Environmental said waste wood feedstock would be sought in the local area and that the plant would provide “supply chain opportunities for the area”.

Peel Environmental’s previous plans for the Colliery site included an additional anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, but this was later removed from the plans sent for approval by Barnsley council.

Jane Gaston, development manager at Peel Environmental, said: “This decision secures a renewable future for the former colliery site, which was once a major employer in Barnsley and at the heart of powering the country. We’re pleased that the council has backed this renewable project that will help widen the energy mix and bring a significant economic boost into Barnsley.”

She added: “There is a real opportunity for the Houghton Main Renewable Energy Centre to act as a catalyst for further regeneration, as the site is surrounded by land earmarked for employment use. With the ability to provide a renewable and reliable source of energy, the Centre could unlock even further inward investment to the area.”


The biomass plant will be constructed and operated by specialist developer Northern Bio Power, which is part of Carbonarius Ltd – a joint venture between the UNA Group and O-Gen UK Ltd.

Formed in 2009, Carbonarius is currently also developing a biomass plant in Tyseley, Birmingham, capable of processing 67,000 tonnes of recovered wood pellets, to be supplied by JM EnviroFuels Ltd (see story).

In addition, Carbonarius is spearheading the 40,000 tonne capacity waste wood biomass plant in Plymouth. This was said to be undergoing commissioning, although uncertainty now surrounds the plant’s future (see story).

Meanwhile, Peel Environmental’s sister firm, Peel Energy, is currently developing a £70 million waste wood biomass plant in Davyhulme, Greater Manchester. However, construction of the 200,000 tonnes per year capacity facility were postponed in February to consider the introduction of a district heating scheme (see story).

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