Biffa has applied to the Environment Agency to vary the environmental permit it was granted for its proposed Newhurst Quarry energy recovery facility in 2011, to allow for an extra 50,000 tonnes a year in capacity.
The company say this will bring the permit in line with previously approved planning permission in 2015, when Leicestershire county council agreed to up the overall annual tonnage to 350,000.
Biffa say the increase in tonnage from the initial 300,000 when first agreed it 2009 is needed, “as a result of design and technology efficiency improvements”. The company say it will also increase the overall electricity output of the facility from 21MW to 33MW.
The application to vary the permit was submitted in May of this year, and published by the Environment Agency earlier this month for consultation, which runs until 1 August 2018.
An early artist’s impression of the Newhurst Quarry EfW facility proposed by Biffa and Covanta.
The plant is proposed for the Newhurst Quarry site on the west side of the M1 motorway, near junction 23, south of the village of Shepshed, 3.5 miles east of Loughborough.
The changes to the permit, which reflect the accepted changes to planning permission in 2015, include the removal of the incinerator bottom ash (IBA) cover, “minor movement of the flue stack” (a type of chimney) and to “develop the option” of the permit allowing for either one or two incineration lines.
Previously, the permit was only for one incineration line. Biffa say both the number of incineration lines and the number of flues will be consistent, which means the site could have two chimneys.
Other updates to the original permit include moving the IBA storage area outside of the designated area of the building, which will see bottom ash from the incineration process be quenched and directed to the storage area before being exported off site. Previously this was held on-site.
The reason for having the option of two lines, said the application, is because discussions are underway with technology providers. Some have indicated that one line could handle the 350,000 tonnes of waste while others have indicated that two lines is an option and Biffa wants the permit to allow for both while a decision on the technology provider is made. The plant will have a notional calorific value of between 7.0 MJ/kg and 14.0 MJ/kg.
Plans for the site were initially announced in 2009, when Biffa said it hoped construction of the site would be complete within three years if planning permission was granted by the end of 2010, leading to an operational date of early-2014.
The plans were then rejected by Leicestershire county council in October 2010 (see letsrecycle.com story ) due to concerns about the potential impact the plant could have on a designated Area of Particularly Attractive Countryside, the impact on Charnwood Forest and on the grade II listed Garendon Park.
However, in 2012, the then communities secretary Eric Pickles overruled the decision and granted permission for the plant to be built. An alternative planning permission to alter the plant was submitted in 2014, and accepted the by the council the following year.
The changes to the permit look to bring it in line with these changes.
In the permit alteration documents, Biffa said that although the site has held a permit since 2011 the facility has not been constructed and is therefore not operational at this time.
In June 2017, to coincide with the release of its annual financial performance, Biffa announced it was to work with energy-from-waste specialists Covanta on the project.
Along with the Newhurst site, Biffa is also in the process of building an energy recovery facility at the Protos site, east of Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and this might get the go-ahead before Newhurst Quarry.
Commenting on the company’s annual figures last month, Biffa chief financial officer and chief executive designate, Michael Topham, said development of the plants will be staggered and Biffa is talking to contractors and lenders at present.
“We are pleased with the progress so far,” he explained. “We have got the waste and we have the balance sheet,” declared Mr Topham. “We expect financial close by Christmas 2018 on one and the next in 2019 with a three-year build. We would hope to have one operational in 2021-2022.”