A proposed merchant energy recovery centre in Essex with the capacity to treat more than a million tonnes of materials per year has been granted permission to source solid recovered fuel as well as materials for recycling from outside of the county.
Gent Fairhead & Co’s planned Integrated Waste Management Facility at Rivenhall Airfield near Braintree initially aims to treat over 800,000 tonnes of commercial and industrial waste per year across a range of on-site facilities.
These include a 287,500 tonnes-per-year capacity materials recycling facility, an 85,000 tonne capacity anaerobic digestion plant, a 250,000 tonne capacity MBT plant and a 360,000 tonne capacity de-inking and paper pulping and CHP facilities. Some of the waste would pass through one or more processes within the facility.
Development of the de-inking plant would be a significant boost to the paper industry and would in particular take in office grade materials.
The CHP facility was recently one of 27 renewable energy projects awarded a ‘contract for difference’ by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) in the government’s £315 million auction to support delivery of green infrastructure in the UK (see letsrecycle.com story).
The plant will generate power on-site for the de-inking and pulping paper facility as well as exporting it to the National Grid.
Herefordshire-based Gent Fairhead was granted planning permission to develop the Braintree site by Essex county council in 2010, and was originally meant to source around 87,500 tonnes of SRF from within the boundaries of Essex and Southend-on-Sea.
In addition, no more than 50% of paper and card throughput for the site was to be sourced from outside the east of England region.
However, changes in waste planning policy since the permission was granted have seen the abolition of the catchment area, while the council found the facility suitably placed to handle waste that would otherwise have been exported for energy recovery.
The firm also successfully cited a number of similar waste facilities that have applied to remove geographical restrictions on appeal. Earlier this year, Drenl applied to expand its current catchment area for its proposed 120,000 tonnes-per-year gasification plant in Corby (see letsrecycle.com story).
In granting the variation, Essex council’s director for operations, environment and economy, Andrew Cook said: “The applicant has shown through analysis of waste data that there is C&I waste suitable for use as SRF/RDF in the CHP/EfW facility arising within the East of England and surroundings areas, such that the Rivenhall facility would likely reduce the amount of waste going to landfill pushing waste management up the Waste Hierarchy in accordance with the NPPW.
It has been shown that currently RDF is passing through Essex to Essex ports, RDF which could potentially be intercepted/redirected (subject to contracts) to the IWMF at Rivenhall reducing waste miles and seeing the RDF generate energy within the UK rather than being exported for use on the Continent and there by contributing to achieving the aim of national self-sufficiency with respect to waste management and increased energy recovery from waste
“In addition, it has been shown that currently RDF is passing through Essex to Essex ports, RDF which could potentially be intercepted/redirected (subject to contracts) to the IWMF at Rivenhall reducing waste miles and seeing the RDF generate energy within the UK rather than being exported for use on the Continent and there by contributing to achieving the aim of national self-sufficiency with respect to waste management and increased energy recovery from waste.”
The council’s decision to grant the planning variation is the latest development at the long-anticipated Gent Fairhead site, which has undergone a number of changes since its inception five years ago.
The planning application was originally “called in” by the then Secretary of State John Denham – who granted planning permission in 2010 subject to 63 conditions and a legal agreement (see letsrecycle.com story).
There had also been a previous planning permission for a waste management facility on the same site by the same applicant which was granted in February 2009. This expired in February 2014, however the firm confirmed there was no intention to implement it.
In August 2014, the firm applied for an extension of two years to the start date for developing the Rivenhall Integrated Waste Management Facility, as the original planning permission was due to expire in March 2015. The firm explained that the delay was due to the economic recession.
In December, the council granted Gent Fairhead a 12-month extension to the deadline, meaning construction of the facility will have to begin by March 2016 at the latest.
Braintree district council did not object to the decision, but asked for “consideration” to be given to the need for a paper pulp facility, since a de-ink plant and mill (Palm Paper) has been developed at King’s Lynn since the original 2010 application.
The county council however argued the proposed mill would not be in direct competition with King’s Lynn as it is designated to deal with recycling of higher grade paper with the intention to manufacture paper pulp.
The council planning report states: “Overall, taking the above factors into account, it is considered that while a further period is justified to bring implementation of such a large and complex project, which requires significant finance and the need for other permits, it is not considered that an additional 2 years is justified.”
“If the development has not been implemented by March 2016, then there would be considerable uncertainty as to whether the facility is needed or viable.”
According to DECC, the plant is currently scheduled to begin delivering 45MW of power between 2018 and 2019.
When contacted by letsrecycle.com, Gent Fairhead declined to comment on the development.