Grundon and Viridor withdraw Ford EfW plans

Grundon and Viridor have withdrawn their planning application for an energy from waste (EfW) plant in West Sussex. 

The revised design of the Ford plant in an artist's impression (March 2021)

However, Ford EfW director Philip Atkinson says a new application will be submitted to West Sussex county council in the near future to help address the “urgent need” for an EfW plant in the area.

The announcement on Friday (25 November) came as a report which was due to be put before West Sussex council’s cancelled planning committee on Sunday recommended the council reject the plant.

The report said that “although the carbon credentials of the proposal are difficult to determine with any certainty, it would be designed to achieve an R1 efficiency status and would result in carbon savings”.

However, the council said it would have an “unacceptable impact on the character of the area, the wider landscape, and visual amenity”.

The council added there is a need for EfW facilities to manage waste, and that it’s better to avoid the export and landfill of waste and to manage close to source.

The decision by the two companies to put their plans on hold come as West Sussex county council works on plans for a new waste management strategy which is expected to be released in the first half of 2022. This is expected to contain fresh proposals for the treatment of residual waste, recycling and food waste.

Changes

An initial application for the 295,000 tonnes per year capacity plant at the Ford Circular Technology Park was submitted in June 2020.This included two “extensive public consultations”.

Grundon and Viridor then made “significant updates” to the plans and re-submitted them earlier in 2021 (see letsrecycle.com story).This included reducing the height of the plant and making architectural changes.

Now, the two waste management companies said that following further feedback from officers at the planning authority the revised application has been withdrawn and will be reviewed to address “outstanding planning officer concerns.”

(left) the original proposal for Ford with a taller plant and single stack (right) the latest proposal, lower in height with two stacks

 

‘Chronic gap’

Philip Atkinson described the site as “ideally” situated, noting that Grundon operates an existing facility there.

He added that the site would help West Sussex address its “chronic waste management capacity gap”. Mr Atkinson explained the council “urgently needs to find an alternation to its current, unsustainable approach of just sending its non-recyclable waste elsewhere, including overseas”.

We want to help West Sussex address its chronic waste management capacity gap

– Philip Atkinson, Ford EfW director

He explained: “There remains a vast quantity of non-recyclable waste which is being hauled around the country, and even into continental Europe.

“To compound this issue, the county council’s own figures show that it recycled 53% of its waste in 2019/20 but is only targeting a one per cent increase in this figure each year. Put simply, this means there will still be many decades when West Sussex will need an environmentally friendly, cost-effective solution for managing the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste that cannot be recycled”.

He concluded that recent issues the country has faced in terms of its energy supplies “highlight the real need to invest in domestic, homegrown sources of sustainable energy generation”.

Changes

Among the changes already made to the application include a reduction in the proposed height of the main energy recovery facility building by 12.7 metres, lowering it from 51.7 metres to 38.5 metres.

The facility has also undergone a “major” architectural redesign, enabling improvements to the site layout and creating space for “a considerable amount” of new green areas and landscaping, which will help screen the facilities, Grundon and Viridor said.

The waste sorting and transfer facility has also been reduced in size.

If it goes ahead, the Ford EfW plant will generate 28MW of energy for the National Grid, enough to power around 68,000 homes.

Grundon and Viridor already work together on energy from waste, as partners at the Lakeside Energy from Waste plant, near Slough.

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