Resource Recovery Centre - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Resource Recovery Centre?

The concept behind Viridor's Resource Recovery Centre is to maximise the opportunities for recycling and recovering energy from residual waste and to utilise the residues from the treatment processes thus minimising the amount of waste sent to landfill.

The proposed Resource Recovery Centre will incorporate:

  • A Material Recycling Facility (MRF), for up to 150,000 tonnes per year which would separate recyclable materials from other waste.
  • An Energy from Waste (EfW) facility capable of treating up to 350,000 tonnes per year of residues from the MRF and other residual waste.
  • A facility to recycle the majority of residues from the EfW to produce aggregates for the construction industry

Residues from the MRF and residual wastes brought to the facility will be burnt in a controlled process using the most up-to-date equipment, much like a conventional power station.

What will you do with the electricity and heat generated?

At full capacity, currently projected as being 350,000 tonnes per annum, the plant will produce a net output of approximately 30 Megawatts (MW) per annum of electricity which will be fed into the National Grid.

As part of the proposed planning submission, Viridor is developing a heat plan. This will develop and implement ideas for using excess heat from the facility, thus further improving the energy efficiency of the plant. Businesses situated nearby could benefit from this excess heat and it is widely recognised that the use of heat could help to support economic development in the area.

What is the location of the proposed facility?

The facility will be situated on Severn Road on the northern part of the old Sevalco site in Chittening, which was previously used to produce carbon black.  The site is close to the Seabanks gas fired power station and is part of a heavily industrialised area.

Why has this location been chosen? Surely there are better sites?

Factors such as environmental impact, neighbouring land use and existing infrastructure were key in the decision to select this site for the proposed Resource Recovery Centre. The nearest residential property is over 1km away.

Will the proposed Resource Recovery Centre accept hazardous or clinical wastes?

No it will not. It will only process materials for recycling and residual non-hazardous wastes. All waste management facilities in the UK are strictly regulated by the Environment Agency (EA). The operation of the Resource Recovery Centre would be subject to the granting of an Environmental Permit, which would set down stringent conditions for operating. This would be monitored not only by Viridor, through its own detailed internal systems, but also by the EA.

Will local residents be affected by noise from the site?

The nearest residential property is over 1km away. It is anticipated that as the majority of waste handling and processing will take place in a fully enclosed and sound-proofed building, noise levels will be kept to a minimum and within acceptable limits. As part of the Environmental Assessment process, a detailed noise study is being undertaken. There would also be strict noise level limits set as part of the Environmental Permit.

Will this bring more traffic to the area?

There will be some increase in road traffic along Severn Road. However, the site is part of a heavily industrialised area. Initial assessments suggest that the road network is suitable for the traffic volumes envisaged. Most traffic will use off-peak hours during the working day and routing agreements can be implemented. This is being considered as part of a detailed highways study, which will form part of the Environmental Statement. We can state that no vehicles associated with the facility will travel through the village of Hallen.

Will it be smelly?

All waste will be delivered in enclosed or sheeted lorries and unloaded within the waste reception building prior to loading into the combustion process. As a consequence of active management of the air within the reception building and the provision of odour control if required, odours will not be perceptible outside of the facility. Again, the control of odours will form part of the Environmental Permit.

Will the EfW be harmful to air quality in the area?

The air cleaning technology employed in modern Energy from Waste plants is extremely effective. The emissions from the plant would be strictly regulated by the Environment Agency and the entire treatment process is designed to meet the requirements not only of local air quality standards but also of the European Waste Incineration Directive (WID). The WID sets very low limits for emissions to air from such facilities, to ensure the protection of human health and the local environment.

What actually comes out of the chimney?

The majority of the emissions from the chimney are made up of carbon dioxide and water. The remainder is extremely low levels of other substances all of which will be listed and assessed in detail within the planning application's Environmental Impact Assessment. The EU Waste Incineration Directive sets very stringent limits to be met. As EfW technology has improved significantly over recent years, EfW facilities not only meet these enacting standards, but achieve much lower emission limits.

The potential impact of emissions has been tested time and time again, not only in the planning arena, but through authorisations being granted by the regulators for the development of EfW facilities in urban environments, recent UK examples being:

SELCHP south east London - operational since 1998

  1. Testwood & Portsmouth - operational since 2005 & Basingstoke, Hampshire - operational since 2003
  2. Sheffield - operational 2006
  3. Lakeside, Slough - operational 2009

What about dioxins? There is no safe level of dioxin emissions.

Dioxins are emitted by a number of sources such as bonfires, jet engines, various industrial processes, and open fires in the home. EfW facilities effectively prevent the production and release of dioxins and are only allowed to operate at levels equivalent to the existing background levels in urban soils.

The EU Waste Incineration Directive sets very stringent limits to be met. The potential impact of emissions has been tested time and time again, not only in the planning arena, but through authorisations being granted by the regulators for the development of EfW facilities in urban environments.

Does Viridor have a good environmental track record?

Yes. The company measures the impact of its operations on the environment and has invested heavily in environmental protection measures. Its Environmental Policy and Annual Corporate Responsibility Report are available to download at http://www.viridor.co.uk/. It was the first company in the UK waste industry to introduce an exemplary Environmental Management System in the early 1990s and now implements an integrated Business Management System incorporating the highest available quality, environmental and health and safety management standards.

What will the facility look like?

The facility will be situated on Severn Road on the northern part of the old Sevalco site in Chittening, which was previously used to produce carbon black.  An architectural team is currently working on the design which will be the best of its kind and appropriate to the location. All waste handling and processing will take place inside the building.

Why build it this way? Couldn't it have been built underground?

Underground design was not deemed appropriate for this facility for a number of reasons - a high water table, existing industrial facilities nearby and the added costs associated with building subterranean facilities.

Is converting waste into energy a poor use of Earth's limited resources? Won't this facility hamper recycling efforts in the future?

No. The Resource Recovery Centre will incorporate a Material Recycling Facility (MRF), for up to 150,000 tonnes per year which would separate recyclable materials from other waste. The accompanying EfW element of the proposal will be complementary to and will not compromise the region's waste prevention, recycling and composting programmes. Case studies from European countries with the highest levels of recycling demonstrate complementary higher levels of EfW for residues to further improve resource efficiency. The proposed facility will only take residual waste that cannot be recycled or composted. Value will be recovered from waste that would otherwise be landfilled.

Why Energy from Waste (EfW)?

Viridor has undertaken extensive research into waste treatment technologies. EfW has the following advantages:

There are 20 plants already operating in the UK; and numerous others throughout Europe and beyond. Therefore it is a proven and robust technology.

  1. The facilities can be developed to cater for a range of waste volumes
  2. In Europe it has been demonstrated that they do not hinder the maximisation of recycling and composting e.g. Denmark, Austria, Sweden, etc.
  3. They provide a safe and efficient means of treating residual waste. 
  4. Electricity is produced which is fed into the National Grid, and heat can potentially be supplied to the local area to enhance economic development.
  5. EfW helps local authorities in diverting residual waste from landfill and meeting the Landfill Directive diversion targets whilst offsetting the significant economic impact of increasing Landfill Tax

 

What if there is a fire on site? Won't this pose a big health risk?

The facility will be using proven technology which comes with an excellent safety record. As part of the design process, discussions will take place with a Fire Safety Consultant to minimise fire risk. Plus, the facility will be built to stringent and relevant safety requirements.

 

How is permission gained?

The facility will need planning permission before construction can start. Detailed assessments of all environmental issues are currently being prepared by SLR Consulting Limited, and will be submitted to Bristol City Council as part of the planning application. This will be accompanied by an Environmental Statement. The Council will decide whether the scheme can go ahead. Before the facility can operate, an Environmental Permit will also need to be issued by the Environment Agency.

When will the facility be built, commence operation, and how long will it be operating?

This depends on how long it takes for the planning and Environmental Permit applications to be determined. It is hoped a planning application will be submitted in September this year (09). If planning approval is granted construction of the facility could commence in 2010. With a three year build programme, operation of the plant could commence in 2013, with a projected operational life of 25 years.

 

 

What is the carbon footprint of the EfW plant?

A detailed study is being undertaken into the carbon footprint of the facility. Although this is yet to be concluded, there are major benefits arising as follows:

  1. The EfW plant will divert a significant volume of waste away from landfill.  Landfill sites generate methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas.
  2. The electricity generated will offset the emission of 43,500 tonnes of carbon per annum which would otherwise be emitted through fossil fuel fired electricity generation.(a proportion of energy generated at good quality EfW/CHP schemes can be deemed as renewable)
  3. Use of the excess heat will further improve the energy efficiency of the plant, which reduces its carbon footprint further.
  4. The proposed plant performs well when compared to the carbon footprint of other available waste management options and technologies, as well as being a significant improvement on current practice.
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