12 September 2017 by Hera Lorandos

Agency accepts Rookery EfW won’t supply heat

The Environment Agency has accepted that the Rookery South energy from waste (EfW) plant proposed for a site in Bedfordshire is too isolated to supply heat to its surrounding area and will only generate electricity.

The details emerged in a consultation issued by the Agency on its draft decision document, covering how it has considered the application by the site’s owner, Covanta Energy for an environmental permit.

American waste firm, Covanta, partnered with Veolia in 2016 in a bid to deliver the energy recovery plant near Stewartby. The proposal is for a facility which will process more than 480,000 tonnes of municipal and commercial residual waste per year from the surrounding area (see letsrecycle.com story).

An artist’s impression of the proposed Rookery Pit plant

The Rookery South EfW achieved planning consent five years ago due to its classification as a nationally significant infrastructure project.


The EfW site is located in Rookery South, a former brick clay extraction pit and a predominantly rural area with two major railway lines to the east and west.

With regard to heat, , the EA said: “We consider that within the constraints of the location of the installation…the installation will recover heat as far as practicable, and therefore that the requirements of Article 50(5) are met.”

Article 50(5) demands that heat generated during the incineration process is recovered as far as “practicable through the generation of heat, steam or power”.

The draft permit document explained that Covanta had carried out a search of opportunities to supply heat within 15 km of the installation.

Following this search, Covanta found that any residential developments in the area were under construction “and so the inclusion of a heat network to these properties is not likely to be available”.

Covanta “identified head loads (demand for heat) within 15 km of the installation. None were in excess of 5 MWth”. And the company stated that “there are physical restraints such as rivers, roads and railways that make heat supply not feasible”.

After a cost benefit assessment, Covanta found that “operating as a high-efficiency cogeneration installation will not be financially viable”.

But Covanta stressed the site was combined heat and power ready and that it was “capable of supplying heat” to planned residential developments and an employment site in nearby Stewartby “should it become viable in the future”.


The EA states that “where electricity only is generated, 5 to 9 MW of electricity should be recoverable per 100,000 tonnes of waste per annum”.

And as Rookery is expected to “generate 65 MW of electricity from 585,000 tonnes of waste, which represents 11.1 MW per 100,000 tonnes/year of waste burned”, the site is generating enough electricity to satisfy the Agency’s requirements.

Construction is anticipated to start in late 2017 with the facility becoming operational in 2020.

Related links

Covanta environmental permit draft decision

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