Our Proposed Energy Recovery Facility: Response to points raised by local stakeholders

Over the last few weeks, a number of questions have been raised by local stakeholders in response to our proposals for an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) at our Parley site near Bournemouth International Airport. 

Most of these questions are already covered in our detailed plans and supporting documents but we wanted to make sure every issue is addressed and correct some inaccurate assumptions. 

In summary:

  • Even with a 10% reduction in waste and an 80% recycling rate, by 2033 BCP and Dorset Councils’ residents and businesses will still produce 180,000 tonnes of leftover waste to manage
  • We already have permission for a 35,000 tonnes per year bioenergy facility – we are proposing to replace this with a small increase in capacity, change of fuel and increase in energy production
  • We are proposing one of the smallest Energy Recovery Facilities possible – this means there is still plenty of room to substantially reduce waste AND significantly increase recycling 
  • Before any residual waste is burned to generate energy, up to 10,000 tonnes of additional recyclables including plastics will be removed so they can be turned back into new products
  • The plant has been designed both to have a very low 38m chimney and very low emissions to have the lowest possible impact on air quality to protect human health and the environment 
  • No objections have been received from BCP’s Environmental Health team or the Environment Agency, who will regulate the ERF facility and already regulate Eco’s facilities and operations
  • We will stop thousands of tonnes of waste being shipped tens and hundreds of miles to be buried in landfill sites which are filling up fast, reducing HGV waste miles by 17,000 per month
  • Eco is a local family-owned recycling pioneer – the proposals will increase Eco’s local workforce by a fifth as well as provide an education centre to help reduce, reuse and recycle more waste.


We hope you find this mythbuster useful in addressing recent discussion points. 

 

Myth: The incinerator will compete with recycling/the circular economy 

Figures from Defra show that Dorset and BCP Councils send almost twice as much waste to landfill than the national average. The Councils’ Waste Plan (adopted in December 2019) states that just over one million tonnes of waste will be produced in the plan area by 2033, taking into account population growth. 
Even allowing for substantial reduction in waste and a significant increase to 80% recycling (from the current rate of 60% and exceeding the Government’s target of 65%), there will still be 180,000 tonnes of waste leftover. 

This is three times the size of the ERF proposed by Eco Sustainable Solutions. There is clearly no conflict with government targets, local council policies or stakeholder aspirations to reduce waste and recycle much, much more. 

Eco's proposals and existing pioneering recycling practices support these local aspirations through investing in recycling and waste education.

Eco’s proposed facility is carefully sized to help BCP and Dorset Councils meet their commitments to significantly reduce landfill and stop exporting the problem to surrounding counties, but also in their ambitions to reduce waste, reuse and recycle more. We will support this by building and resourcing an education centre at the site.
The new plant will extract any remaining recyclable materials that have a positive value – including plastics, metals and glass – before the rest is put through an energy recovery process.

 

Myth: A typical incinerator increases carbon emissions and harms air quality

The proposed ERF will have a net benefit of CO2 equivalent per year. 

Eco has worked extremely hard to ensure the plant size, design and additional abatement technology ensure the lowest possible impact on local air quality and the local environment. 

The proposed ERF will replace an existing planning permission on the site for a 35,000 tonnes per year bioenergy, with a small increase in capacity, change of fuel and increase in energy production. As a result, the ERF will have a net benefit of CO2 equivalent per year.

The plans include detailed assessments demonstrating how, for example, nitrogen emissions will be less than 1% above existing background levels at ground level next to the plant in order to protect not only human health but also designated sites and local sites of special scientific interest. 

Eco’s proposals will reduce annual landfill emissions by the equivalent of 12,850 tonnes of CO2 per year as well as providing a reduction of 17,000 HGV waste miles per month. Eco’s existing recycling operations already divert over 250,000 tonnes of organic and recyclable waste materials from landfill each year, reducing methane emissions saving 93,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. 

Given the size of the proposed ERF, the emissions will be significantly lower than any other currently operating plants in the UK and will meet all existing and planned future targets for emissions in line with the requirements set out and enforced by the Environment Agency. 

All other emissions will be well within existing and planned emission limits in accordance with regulations, including taking into account existing background emissions from road traffic, the airport and agriculture. 

We have been working closely with Natural England to ensure and verify this, and consulted with BCP Council’s Environmental Health Team during pre-application discussions to ensure that any emission levels fall well within the acceptable level of concentrations with respect to protecting human health.

 

Myth: It's a highly carbon intensive means of generating small amounts of electricity 

The primary purpose of an ERF is to reduce the amount of residual, unrecyclable leftover waste sent to landfill and reduce methane emissions from landfill sites, whilst ensuring the waste generated by businesses and householders can be collected from local homes and businesses, protecting human health and the environment. 

Secondarily, it is a means of recovering energy and materials (even the bottom ash is recycled). Around half of the carbon in residual waste is considered to be non-fossil carbon, which means it is considered ‘renewable’. This is not true of coal or natural gas – both are 100% fossil carbon. 

By these measures, an ERF offers significant carbon savings. ERFs that generate electricity are c.25% efficient, however Eco plans to also recover the heat from its small-scale local facility which would boost overall efficiency to more than 70%. 

Coal and gas power stations which are hundreds of times larger than the local ERF proposed by Eco are unable to recover and use waste heat, because the facilities are so big and often remote from conurbations or heat users. 

 

Myth: It’s expensive and doesn't create many jobs compared with the alternatives

Compared to landfilling waste including taxes and levies, the gate fee charged for residual waste will be comparable if not lower. 

There is no ‘PFI’ style contract involved in our proposals – Eco will have to bid for local waste contracts, and the councils are not involved in financing or building the facility. Eco is proud to own and operate all of its own existing and proposed facilities. 

Eco employs 49 local people across its current operations, processing more than 250,000 tonnes of local waste materials every year. The ERF will employ an additional ten people across the organisation. Landfilling the equivalent tonnage of waste would employ a fraction of our workforce. 

 

Myth: The UK has a potential surplus capacity in incineration 

This is patently incorrect – the UK still pays to export waste to ERFs in Europe and the most recent statistics show that waste to landfill jumped by 4% in 2019 with over 45 million tonnes of waste still ending up being buried in one of the UK’s remaining 310 permitted landfill sites, with Dorset and BCP Councils landfilling almost twice the national average percentage of waste. 

There is a clear local shortage of facilities for managing waste from households and businesses as demonstrated by the BCP and Dorset councils’ joint waste plan identifying the need for 232,000 tonnes of additional capacity. 

 

For all documentation, facts & figures on the proposal please visit our dedicated project site 
 

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