7 January 2015 by Tom Goulding

Drenl amends Corby EfW plan over feedstock fears

An artist's impression of the Corby gasification plant, which was awarded final planning permission in 2014

An artist’s impression of the Corby gasification plant, which was awarded final planning permission in 2014

The developer of a proposed energy from waste plant in Northamptonshire has applied to expand its current catchment area, amid fears that it may not be able to source enough waste across its 25-year lifespan.

Drenl was granted final planning permission to build its 120,000 tonnes-per-year gasification facility by Corby borough council in early 2014, appointing Bouygues Energies and Services UK to begin construction towards the end of the year. However, the company has so far failed to begin work on the plant.

The application allows Drenl to source commercial and industrial waste from within a 30-mile radius of the plant, which would be located on Gretton Brook Road Industrial Estate.

However, Drenl is now seeking to amend its original application, extending the catchment area for C&I waste to within a “90 minute drive” of the facility. This would mean a ‘sub-national’ expansion into counties including Warwickshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire – but excludes parts of north London located within the M25.

The company claims the move would not counteract the ‘proximity principle’ under England’s Waste Management Plan published in 2013 – which relates only to the treatment of mixed municipal waste.

However, it acknowledges that the Northamptonshire Minerals and Waste Local Plan (NMWLP) does not make provision for waste generated outside the county – and that movement across its borders should be ‘minimised’.

‘Difficulties’

In an application report submitted to the council on December 19 2014, the company’s agent GP Planning explains that the current limitations placed on the facility are causing ‘considerable financial difficulties in securing the funding to continue construction of the facility’.

The planning variation requests that waste can be sourced from within a "90 minute" radius of Corby

The planning variation requests that waste can be sourced from within a “90 minute” radius of Corby

The company claims that 600,000 tonnes of C&I waste is generated within the 30-mile catchment area per year, taking into account competition posed by other operating facilities, those under construction, and those likely to be granted permission.

While GP Planning believes that this should ensure a ‘continuous supply of waste’ to the site, it argues that investors are concerned available feedstock may be further reduced across the 25-year lifespan of the facility.

The report reads: “In securing full funding for the capital investment, the bank has expressed concern that the supply may be reduced as other similar facilities are constructed and become operational that have not been taken into account in the predictions set out above. The bank needs confidence that for the 25 year design life of the facility waste can be sourced to ensure that the plant can be operated at its design capacity.”

It adds: “If a larger catchment area cannot be agreed, the developer will fail to be offered the funding needed for the main capital investment at the site, which will mean that a much needed facility to treat the county’s residual commercial and industrial waste will not be built.”

Network

GP Planning concludes that Drenl would continue to seek most of its feedstock from within Northamptonshire, but would also look at developing a network of facilities over the next ‘three to five years’ in order to justify its expansion outside the regional catchment area.

In order to establish this network, Drenl has secured planning permission for a site near Croydon, is seeking permission to build a facility in North Yorkshire and is also looking at another site in Cheshire.

The variation will now be considered by Northamptonshire county council, which will remain open for consultation until February 5. A final decision is expected to follow in March.

If completed, it is expected that the £80 million project would generate around 9MW of electricity per year for the National Grid, as well as creating around 60 permanent jobs.

Drenl had also been exploring the possibility of providing combined heat and power to Gretton Brook Estates Ltd’s Resource Recovery Park – which was turned down by Corby council in August last year.

An emerging energy-from-waste developer – Drenl hopes to build a range of CHP-enabled projects. The company was founded by former Environment Agency board member James Brathwaite – who currently serves as its executive chairman.

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