23 October 2018 by Elizabeth Slow

Advanced technology proposed for Rivenhall stack

Developer Gent Fairhead has applied to construct its proposed Rivenhall energy from waste facility in Essex, using advanced emission technologies and a lower chimney height.

The company has made an application to vary its environmental permit for the Integrated Waste Management Facility, to implement an advanced form of the emission abatement technologies, along with tighter operational controls. Sources close to the project have revealed that the technologies are likely to surpass those existing in the UK.

The application also proposes to reduce the height of the stack from 58 metres to 35 metres and align its Environmental Permit to its existing (and implemented) planning permission.


The Rivenhall Airfield development chimney is a subject of discussion with regard to the permit and planning permission.

Height of the stack has been problematic for the project with the Environment Agency granting a permit for a 58m high stack while Essex county council has only given planning permission for a 35 metre high stack.


Now, Gent Fairhead is trying to resolve the situation by the use of advanced technologies so that the impact of the emissions from the lower 35 metre stack will be the same as those approved by the Environment Agency for a higher 58 metre stack but still has not ruled use of a taller stack.

The new technology and method of operation will be an improvement to the existing Environmental Permit, Gent Fairhead says.

Once the Environment Agency has validated and confirmed that the application has been “duly made”, it will commence its assessment and public consultation. A decision is anticipated early next year.

In its decision document granting the facility’s Environmental Permit for the 58m stack the Environment Agency stated: “Even with a stack height of 35 metres we were satisfied that no air quality or human health thresholds would have been exceeded.”

Gent Fairhead said it has also submitted additional information to Essex County Council in support of its existing planning application to increase the height of its stack by 23m (from 35m to 58m) which are intended to align its planning permission to the existing Environmental Permit.

This information highlights “the overwhelming need for the IWMF,” the firm said, and addresses a number of points that have been raised by objectors relating to the proposed change in the height of the stack.


Steven Smith, a spokesman on behalf of Gent Fairhead’s project team said: “These are two separate processes although clearly related in their objective. Gent Fairhead is seeking a planning permission and environmental permit that are aligned so that construction may continue on site.

“The new information submitted to the Environment Agency justifies a variation of its existing Environmental Permit to a 35 metre stack but, as this has yet to be approved, the company has also submitted independent assessments to Essex County Council as part of the planning process that prove the need for the plant in Essex and the limited additional impact from increasing the stack height from 35 metres to 58 metres.”

“Construction will restart on the IWMF following approval of the application(s) by either the Environment Agency or Essex County Council.”

Gent Fairhead was granted an environmental permit for the facility in 2017 (see letsrecycle.com story).

The site at Rivenhall will be developed to receive and recover a range of wastes and recyclable materials and generate ‘green’ power by exporting electricity to the local grid.


Local communities are outraged at a new Environment Agency permit application that has been submitted for the Rivenhall incinerator, just a couple of miles from Coggeshall, Kelvedon and Bradwell, right in the heart of the North Essex countryside.

On 22 October, Gent Fairhead submitted an application to the Environment Agency, to operate the incinerator with just a 35m high chimney. A similar application has been made before and was thrown out on the basis that it wasn’t high enough: such a short chimney height means the emissions and pollutants coming from the facility would likely not be dispersed at a safe level.

The plans for the incinerator have changed vastly since it was first proposed two decades ago as an aerobic digestion plant. It had a Secretary of State appeal and inspection in 2010, and it was determined that 35m would be the maximum height allowed. However, following the Environment Agency’s rejection of a permit for this height, Gent Fairhead attempted last year to seek planning permission for an increase in height, taking it to 58m. However, there has been no consideration of the planning application so far.

The current situation is therefore that Gent Fairhead has a permit for 58m high, but planning permission for 35m. While it is seeking permission for 58m, it has been over a year since their application was submitted and in that time they have made had to make changes to their documentation. These may be in part due to flaws and errors in the application, which were identified in a comprehensive report compiled by local action group PAIN, who employed experts in planning and air quality to analyse the evidence. As a result, this latest permit attempt could come from the realisation that planning will be refused. It also may be due to the thousands of objections that have been received – the most in the past year for any application to Essex County Council.

Ultimately, this incinerator is in the wrong location and there is insufficient supply to operate it. With a growing evidence base against incineration and national policy focused on cleaner air and removing sources of dangerous emissions, it is ridiculous that plans for a new incinerator are even being considered. This is even more concerning given the detrimental impact it will have on the environment and health of the surrounding communities.

MP for Witham, Priti Patel, has said: “This latest application is cause of serious concern for local communities who object to the incinerator. There are now two processes in place with Gent Fairhead trying to align the environmental permit requirements with the planning consent they need to proceed.”

PAIN is calling on the Environment Agency to reject this permit, standing by its original position that a 35m high chimney is unacceptable.

Posted by Nick Unsworth on October 23, 2018

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