Surrey county council has today (December 15) revealed that it has dropped plans to build two energy-from-waste facilities to deal with the county's residual waste under its 25-year PFI-funded waste treatment contract with SITA UK.
The announcement by the council's leader Dr Andrew Povey means that Surrey Waste Management, the subsidiary of SITA UK set up to deliver the Surrey waste contract, will instead develop gasification and anaerobic digestion facilities to treat an expected 100,000 tonnes of household waste a year as part of a new 'Eco Park' project.
The new facilities are set to be developed at a cost of £50 million, significantly less than the £200 million cost earmarked for the two incinerators.
I am very pleased to announce that we are scrapping plans for any EfW incinerators in Surrey
Dr Andrew Povey, leader, Surrey county council
The council claimed the move was prompted by the county requiring less residual waste treatment capacity than it had expected, due to success in reducing waste and increasing recycling rates.
As a result, Dr Povey said that he had asked Surrey Waste Management to formally withdraw the planning applications it had submitted to build incinerators at Trumps Farm, near Longcross, and at Capel, near Guildford, which between them would have been able to treat 270,000 tonnes of waste a year.
Both developments have proved controversial since the PFI deal was originally signed in 1999, with the proposal to build 110,000 tonnes-a-year capacity incinerator at Capel being subject to a legal challenge in the High Court in February 2009 (see letsrecycle.com story).
Commenting on today's decision, Dr Povey said: “I am very pleased to announce that we are scrapping plans for any EfW incinerators in Surrey.”
He explained that: “With our help, and that of our partners, our residents are now doing so well at producing less waste and recycling more that we are in a position to look at alternative methods of dealing with our waste and saving both money and our countryside.”
With the abandonment of the incinerator plans, the county council is instead proposing to develop the gasification and anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities as part of an Eco Park, which it plans to develop with Surrey Waste Management at its existing site at Charlton Lane in Shepperton, which is home to a waste transfer station.
The council's cabinet member for the environment, Lynne Hack, claimed that the proposed Eco-Park would be the “first of its kind” in the UK.
“It would incorporate a range of waste treatment facilities, an innovation centre to look at and develop the latest technologies and an education centre open to all,” she added.
Surrey Waste Management said it planned to consult with residents on the Eco Park proposals in the New Year.
And, speaking to letsrecycle.com today, the county council's waste operations manager, Richard Parkinson, said that the council was aiming to have the site up-and-running by 2013, working on a one year planning and two year build timetable.
He claimed that, bearing in mind the difficulties faced with the Capel application and the fact that the Longcross facility's application was not due to be considered until next year, in planning terms the Eco Park plans were “probably not far behind” where the EfW proposals were.
Surrey Waste Management
Following today's announcement, Sean Trotter, the regional manager for Surrey Waste Management, said the company was now focused on developing the new facilities and helping Surrey county council to meet its target of recycling 70% of its household waste by 2013.
Claiming the incinerators still had an “important role” to play in managing the UK's residual waste, he explained that the council's lower-than-expected amounts of residual waste made it possible to look at alternative technologies.
He added: “As the council's recycling and waste management contractor, it is our job to ensure that the technology proposed works effectively. Instead of developing energy-from-waste incinerators, a gasification and anaerobic digestion facility are now proposed.
“Gasification is suitable for treating smaller amounts of mixed household waste and anaerobic digestion is an effective way to manage biodegradable waste. Both techniques for managing household waste fully support.”
Commenting on the prospects of the Eco Park getting planning permission, Mr Parkinson claimed that it had the “advantage” of the site already being used as a waste transfer station for 150,000 tonnes of waste a year, with all the vehicle movements in and out of the location this involved.
He stressed that, with the Eco Park turning the waste into electricity on site, “the outward traffic should be less”, and claimed that it would also have the advantage of being a smaller development than the two incinerators previously proposed.