FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Viridor is happy to discuss its proposals for a Resource Recovery centre facility at New England Quarry, Lee Mill and related issues with any interested groups or individuals. We have included some of the most commonly asked questions below.
We've grouped the questions as follows:
- Air quality / emissions
- Surface water / ground water
- Visual and noise impact
1. What are the details of the proposed facility?
The proposed New England Resource Recovery Centre facility would include an Energy from Waste (EfW) facility; an on-site bottom ash treatment and recycling facility; a non-hazardous landfill for waste; a visitor and education centre; and a new site access road.
2. Where will the proposed site be developed?
The proposed facility will be constructed on part of the disused New England Quarry, Lee Mill, near Ivybridge.
3. Why was this site chosen?
The site has been subject of mineral extraction development for many years and is allocated for a range of waste management uses in the Devon Waste Local Plan. It is designed to serve business and local authority customers in the South West Devon area. It should be noted that less than half the proposed feedstock arises in Plymouth. Viridor believes that this is the best location taking into account the strategic road network and is central to the source of the projected waste arisings.
4. What happens at an Energy from Waste facility?
Energy from waste is a proven and efficient technology that sees waste burned at high temperature under carefully controlled conditions. This releases energy in the form of heat, which is converted into steam and used to power electricity generators. Following a short start-up procedure, the waste combustion is self-sustaining.
5. What is bottom ash treatment?
Bottom ash is the ‘slag' or ‘clinker' residue in the bottom of the furnace grate produced from the energy from waste process. This can be recycled and used as an aggregate in the construction industry. The New England facility will produce approximately 62,500 tonnes a year. Bottom ash treatment consists of maturation and cooling, screening and the removal of metals for recycling. The treatment and recycling process takes six to eight weeks.
6. What happens at the non-hazardous landfill?
The landfill will be a fully lined and engineered facility, ensuring safe and controlled disposal and full environmental and amenity protection. The landfill facility will principally be used for the disposal of waste that is unsuitable for recycling or EfW processing, such as bulky or oversize commercial or household waste, road sweepings, etc. The site will also be designed to accommodate unprocessed residual wastes when the EfW facility is undergoing maintenance, although it is not expected that it will accept this material on a regular or frequent basis. In addition, any bottom ash from the EfW facility that cannot be recycled or sold can be disposed at this landfill.
7. What will the visitor and education centre comprise of?
Visitors to the centre will be able to learn about waste prevention, the importance of recycling, best practice and the role and function of EfW and landfill. Interactive and best practice displays and activities will ensure that the education centre will provide teachers and lecturers with high quality environmental education opportunities and a ‘close-up' visitor experience. Viridor operates similar facilities at waste and recycling sites across the UK.
8. Where will the new site access road be located?
A new site access road (including improved junction configuration) will be developed leading into the site from the A38, at the Lee Mill junction of the A38.
9. What legislation will Viridor need to comply with on the proposed development?
The development will require planning consent and will need to comply with any planning conditions contained within that consent. It will also require an Environmental Permit issued and regulated by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2007. The permit would ensure compliance with stringent EC Waste Incineration Directive standards. (WID) (2007/76/EC). In addition, the permit will ensure that the landfill element of the scheme also complies with the Landfill Directive and the Groundwater Directive.
10. What is the exact tonnage of waste the centre will receive and what this will consist of?
The facility could deal with 300,000 tonnes of residual waste from businesses and households in the South West Devon area, of which about 275,000 tonnes per annum will be processed in the EfW facility. Residual waste is the waste that is left over after all recyclables and reusable materials have been recovered and reused.
11. Will the facility take in hazardous waste or clinical wastes?
No, the facility will not accept any hazardous waste or clinical wastes.
12. What are the minimal levels of waste the facility needs to operate?
The facility is comprised of two identical parallel processing plants, each with an optimum capacity of 137,500 tonnes per annum. Each of these can operate at different throughputs depending upon the nature of the waste. Under normal conditions, if only one of these parallel plants was in use, then the minimum waste required to sustain combustion would be about 70% optimum capacity i.e. around 100,000 tonnes per annum.
13. Will waste from outside South West Devon be treated at the facility?
It is not intended to treat waste from outside the South West Devon Partnership area.
14. How much recycling is likely to be achieved?
The facility is primarily designed for the treatment of residual waste. However, bottom ash will be recycled as secondary aggregate, whilst metals will also be removed for recycling. In addition, some recyclate will be recovered from commercial and industrial waste inputs.
15. How much waste will be sent to the landfill on site?
It is designed to take between 30,000 and 40,000 tonnes per annum.
16. How much ‘fly ash' will be produced and how this will be handled/treated?
The facility will produce approximately 10,000 tonnes per annum of Air Pollution Control (APC residues) which includes fly ash. This will be exported from the site in sealed tanker vehicles (approximately two per day). The APC residues will be treated at suitably licensed sites outside Devon.
17. How will the landfill be sealed?
The landfill will be designed to standards imposed by the Environment Agency that will ensure that there are no unacceptable impacts on surrounding groundwater and surface waters and that landfill gases are not allowed to migrate from the site. It is likely that this will involve a lining system composed of an impervious mineral layer as well as an artificial liner.
18.Is the proposal related to the South West Devon Waste Partnership PFI contract? What are the plans for the site if Viridor is not successful in securing the PFI deal? Would waste from outside south west Devon be brought in or would Viridor sell the facility to the successful bidder?
This is a speculative planning application based on Viridor's clear assessment of local market demand. As site owner, Viridor would propose to proceed with its proposals for the development of the site for a range of waste facilities regardless of whether it is successful in the PFI contract procurement. In the circumstances suggested, the exact nature of the development would be determined at a later time taking account of the nature and projected volumes of non-contract waste arising in a similar area as that encompassed by the South West Devon Waste Partnership. If the waste contract is awarded to another company it will have been awarded on the basis of a specific alternative site and so there will be no opportunity to sell the site to another company to service this contract.
19. What are the operating hours of the facility including delivery hours for lorries? How could lorries be prevented from using local roads (especially around Ermington and the lanes to the south of Ivybridge)?
The EfW process will be continuous but waste deliveries and operation of the landfill will be limited to 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, including Bank Holidays, and 8am to 4pm on Sundays. It is probable that deliveries on Saturday afternoons and Sundays will be restricted to those arising from local authorities only. All waste traffic will access the site from the A38 junction as this will be the only entrance to the site.
20. What is the likely impact on property prices?
Experience suggests that potential impacts are small or ‘insignificant', and only possibly affect properties immediately local to the site. This is backed up by research undertaken on behalf of the Government. (e.g. DEFRA study to estimate the disamenity costs of landfill in Great Britain, 2003). DEFRA has also published guidance on the quality design of such facilities to further reduce any such impact.
21. How will the local community benefit from the new centre?
The proposal will achieve the cost-effective disposal of residual waste generated by local communities and businesses using a proven and robust technology as an alternative to the present landfill-based disposal. It will achieve local generation of power, a proportion of which is deemed renewable, in a part of the country largely dependent upon electricity imported from elsewhere. The site will provide approximately 40 permanent jobs as well as many temporary jobs during the construction phase. Goods and services during construction and operation will be sourced locally where possible, providing support to local businesses. A dedicated on-site visitor and education facility will provide resource for local schools and residents, supporting on-going waste prevention and environmental education programmes.
22. What kinds of jobs will there be at the site during construction and operation? How can we apply for these positions?
There will be employment for approximately 40 new permanent staff, including skilled process engineers, site supervisors and operatives for all operations, as well as a larger number of temporary jobs during the construction phase. Viridor's human resources department advertises all jobs via the company website.
23. What will be the impact to local wildlife and how will Viridor ensure local species are protected?
Viridor will have to demonstrate that there proposals will have no significant detrimental impact upon local wildlife. This will be assessed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment submitted with the planning application and if necessary any mitigation of impacts will be included within these submitted proposals. Habitats within the site boundaries will be proactively managed to enhance their biodiversity where appropriate, in partnership with local wildlife and ecology experts.
1. What technology will be used on this facility?
The technology will be the latest ‘conventional moving-grate' incineration, with the heat being used to generate steam and produce electricity via steam turbines. This is safe, efficient and proven technology used in Europe and the rest of the world. There are over 20 such facilities operating in the UK and more than 400 across Europe.
2. How safe is the technology and what safeguards will be put in place to ensure the public is protected?
A recently published Health Protection Agency report stated that ‘modern, well-managed incinerators make only a small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants' and that any potential health impacts, if they exist, are likely to be very small and not detectable. The facility will require an Environmental Permit in order to operate. This will require compliance with the requirements of all necessary standards protecting health and the environment. Viridor's compliance will be regulated by the Environment Agency on a continual basis.
3. There are alternative technologies that exist, such as gasification, pyrolysis, plasma gasification, etc. Why are these not being considered?
Viridor does not consider that the alternative technologies are either bankable, proven or competitive, for the local market in South West Devon at this time, hence they are not being proposed as part of the development. The company employs a range of treatment and recycling technologies across the UK and assesses the viability of alternative technologies on a regular basis.
4. What about the carbon footprint? Doesn't burning waste produce more carbon dioxide than generating the same power from gas?
Burning waste is a form of re-use and recovery since it consumes previously-used materials as a feedstock and therefore improves resource efficiency. The use of primary fuels does not enable the use of that material more than once and can be seen to be more wasteful.
Compared to conventional landfilling, the EfW plant will result in significantly lower methane emissions. This is important because methane is a greenhouse gas which is 20 times more powerful in its effect than CO2. By using waste as a fuel in a controlled environment under optimum conditions, the amount of greenhouse gas can be dramatically reduced. The generation of electricity also offsets the use of fossil fuel. Utilising additional heat produced could further improve the plants' efficiency.
The carbon footprint is reduced further still by separating out recyclables at source through kerbside collection and similar schemes, as there are clear carbon benefits in recycling many materials such as plastics, metals and glass.
Whether or not we adopt combined heat and power, the fact remains that if every country in Europe could achieve a 60% recycling target and used the remaining 40% residual waste to generate energy, we would prevent 54 million tonnes of CO2 being released to atmosphere by 2020. That's the equivalent of taking 20 million cars of the roads.
This is why energy from waste is acknowledged as a significant means of mitigating climate change by international organisations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
5. How much electricity will be produced?
There will be supply of 20MW electricity to the National Grid. This is enough to power around 34,700 homes.
6. How much heat/steam will be produced?
Large amounts of steam and/or higher temperature hot water (collectively known as high grade heat) can be produced from this facility, but all to the detriment of the electricity production. The viability of this use of energy needs to take account the loss of electricity production.
There will be large amounts of lower-temperature hot water that arise as a by-product of the process. This can be piped to local users with negligible effect on plant electricity output.
Both of these combined heat and power options are being considered by Viridor.
7. Who might purchase/use the heat? Will the developments at/near to Tesco use the heat? Is it viable to provide heat to the proposed development at Sherford?
Viridor is considering a number of potential users, including businesses on Lee Mill Industrial Estate. Discussions are taking place with potential users. Interested business may include those with a cooling use as well as a heating use.
1. What will be the impact on existing highways in Lee Mill from additional traffic?
The projected ‘worst-case' traffic figures are around 150 waste collection vehicles per day, of which around 100 would approach from the west. The existing number of vehicle movements through Lee Mill village from the west turning off the A38 is around 7,100 per day.
Viridor has considered a number of highway options and improvements as a result of community consultation. These included options which may remove this traffic from the road through Lee Mill village, along with options to improve the existing routes. These options are still under discussion with land-owners, the Highways Agency and the Highway Authority (Devon CC).
2. Has the Highways Agency been consulted about these plans?
Yes and discussions continue.
3. What route will the lorries take travelling to and from the site?
All access to the site will be from the A38 and there will be none along minor roads previously used to access New England Quarry when it was a working quarry.
We are still working with relevant authorities to review and attempt to alleviate traffic issues.
4. How much of the ancient woodland will be affected by the proposed access road?
We are working up the design to minimise the impact upon the ancient woodland.
5. Will the bus service that passes the Westward Inn be maintained?
We are in discussion with First Bus over this issue and everything will be done to prevent any negative impact on a continued convenient bus service for the village.
6. What will be the impact on traffic levels during the construction phase?
It is anticipated that the new access, including junction improvements, will be constructed at the earliest opportunity during the entire construction programme and it is also anticipated that the vast majority of construction related traffic will come from destinations to the east of the development (i.e. not through the village).
All of these matters will be considered in the traffic impact assessment that forms part of the application
7. What types of lorry/vehicle will be accessing the site?
Waste is likely to be delivered mainly in refuse collection vehicles (dustcarts). A smaller number of bulk waste carrying vehicles (articulated lorries) are also likely to use the site. There will also be a small number of tanker vehicles. Secondary aggregates derived from bottom ash will be removed by tipper style lorries.
8. What will be the impact on local businesses if the existing slip road is closed or access is restricted?
This matter is being assessed and will be discussed directly with the businesses involved.
1. What emissions will be released from the chimneys?
Much of what comes out of the chimney (or stack) is not smoke at all, it's condensed water and it is not really visible except on cold days. Everything that is discharged through the chimney has already been treated to remove potentially harmful substances and all emissions are monitored continuously to make sure the site is operating safely.
The energy from waste process is subject to extremely stringent air quality standards, which are higher than those for ‘conventional' power stations or other industrial processes. In the UK, all EfW facilities treating waste must comply with the Waste Incineration Directive (WID). WID's objectives are to minimise the impact from emissions to air, soil, surface and ground water on the environment and human health.
The key requirements in the WID for the operation of a facility are:
- A minimum combustion temperature and residence time of the resulting combustion products. For municipal waste this is a minimum requirement of 850°C for 2 seconds
- WID also sets specific emission limits for the release to atmosphere of other potential pollutants, namely: Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Hydrogen Chloride (HCl), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Particulate (fly ash), Heavy Metals and Dioxins.
In order to meet the stringent emission limits, EfW facilities must therefore consistently burn waste at very high temperatures and be equipped with a sophisticated system for cleaning the flue gases and removing ash particles prior to discharge. Around two thirds of any modern EfW facility is dedicated to emissions control.
The hot gases produced from the boiler, which raises steam for energy generation, contain fine particles of ash. The gases are cleaned by adding an alkaline powder to neutralise any excess acid. Carbon is then added to remove dioxins and heavy metals. Fine particles, together with the spent carbon and powder from the treatment process, are collected by high efficiency filters. This material, known as Air Pollution Control (APC) residue or fly ash, is collected and stored in a sealed container for transportation to a special landfill site for disposal, or to another facility for further treatment.
The chimney is equipped with continuous monitoring equipment (CEMS), which must be in full working order at all times. If any part of the monitoring equipment fails, the EfW facility is not allowed to operate and must shut down immediately.
2. How will emissions be monitored and who by?
All waste facilities, including energy from waste plants, are regulated to prevent or minimise any risks to the environment or health. The Environment Agency regulates all EfW plants burning municipal waste. These plants are subject to the EU Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) regime (as well as WID - see above), which aims to prevent, reduce or eliminate pollution at source. The Environment Agency closely regulates these EfW plants to make sure that the emissions are as low as they can be to protect the environment and human health. The actual sampling will be undertaken by an accredited testing house.
3. Isn't there evidence that incinerators cause health problems?
The Health Protection Agency issued a statement in September 2009 that was based on a review of the available scientific evidence with regard to the safety of EfW facilities. It concluded that modern, well managed incinerators make only a small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants. It is possible that such small additions could have an impact on health but such effects, if they exist, are likely to be very small and not detectable.
Combusting waste to mandatory EU Waste Incineration Directive standards is therefore an extremely low-risk, environmentally-benign method of post recycling/composting residual waste disposal.
A 2004 UK Government report which considered 23 reputable studies and four review papers into the patterns of disease around EfW facilities concluded that the risk of cancer caused by living near an EfW facility is so remote that it is too low to measure. The Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment has reviewed recent data and has concluded that there is no need to change its previous advice, namely that any potential risk of cancer due to residency near to municipal waste incinerators is exceedingly low and probably not measurable by the most modern techniques.
To illustrate the comparative safety of the EfW process when compared to many every day activities, an independent report for the Department of the Enivronment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) observed that the Surrey stretch of the M25 produces more than 95 times the amount of carbon monoxide and five times the amount of carbon dioxide than a single EfW facility would produce over the same period of time. It also points out that the amount of sulphur dioxide emitted from an EfW facility is no more than that produced by 100 people using coal fires. (Source: Defra Review of Environmental & Health Effects of Waste Management: MSW and Similar Wastes)
Further information on the Health Protection Agency's Report (published September 2009) can be found at http://www.hpa.org.uk
4. What will happen when the wind is low - how will any emissions disperse? When there are off-shore low winds, how much of any emissions will drift back to Yealmpton down the valley?
The facility will not compromise local air quality standards. The dispersion and dilution of any released pollutants will be complex and is governed not only by the wind speed and direction, but also factors such as building influence, topography and the height of the atmospheric ‘mixing layer'. The detailed dispersion modelling undertaken in support of the planning and permitting applications includes incorporation of meteorological and topographical data to most accurately simulate dispersion.
5. There is already poor air quality in Ivybridge how will the emissions affect this?
The pollution associated with traffic which is of concern in the UK is nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. The EfW will not significantly increase levels of these pollutants in Ivybridge.
6. How will the emissions impact on Langage Farm and the Dartmoor National Park?
The detailed dispersion modelling exercise has considered ecological receptors as well as human. All predicted impacts are within acceptable levels and will not have significant adverse affects on the local environment.
7. Where will engineers be conducting surveys / setting up measurement instruments? Don't the engineers need to get the landowner's permission to conduct this work?
Air monitoring has been undertaken over a six month period at 14 locations in the vicinity of the site and further afield (at the Dartmoor SAC, for example). The majority of locations are public access, such as on the highways network or on Dartmoor. In the locations which are privately owned, such as the Totnes real-time air quality monitor, permission was obtained before emplacement. There was only one location where monitoring was undertaken on land owned by individuals and in this case, the consultant approached the landowner and obtained permission.
8. What will be the combined effects of the Langage Power Station?
The EIA scoping process responses included a request to investigate the combined effects on air quality of the EfW and the power station. On this basis, such investigation was competed as an aspect of the detailed dispersion modelling for the site. There are no combined effects which lead to any unacceptable impacts.
Surface water/ground water
1. What is the nature of the water in the quarry and how it will be discharged to the Yealm? What will be the effects on the Yealm and what will be the impact with temperature changes?
This is a matter that will be dealt with fully in the Environmental Impact Assessment. However, in short the surface water within the quarry void is of high-quality and will be discharged in an appropriate manner so as not to discernibly impact upon the River Yealm. Temperature will not be affected.
2. What safeguards would be put in place to prevent spillages/water seeping into the water course? How will surface water runoff on the site be dealt with?
There are various pollution control techniques that will be employed to prevent negative impacts on groundwater and surface waters. These will be described in the Environmental Impact Assessment and the Environmental Permit application. In brief these will consist of:
- A fully lined and engineered landfill site with leachate removal and off-site disposal equipment;
- Active minimisation of leachate generation in the operation of the landfill;
- Surface water run-off control systems for all hardstandings and roads;
- Sustainable drainage systems incorporating living media to minimise runoff.
Any discharges to surface water will be strictly controlled and regulated by the Environment Agency
3. What is the depth of the quarry?
The depth of water in the quarry is approximately 25 metres.
4. Where will Viridor draw its water from for the generating process?
Water usage is minimal as the process incorporates condensing equipment. If export of steam and/or hot water is installed then mains water sources would be utilised.
Visual and noise impact
1. Will there be any smells coming from the facility? What about the smells when deliveries are made or from the chimney stack?
Waste deliveries will be made inside a sealed building operating under negative pressure with fast-operating doors. This will minimise the opportunity for odours to emanate from waste deliveries.
The stack emissions are odourless and comprise mostly steam and carbon dioxide.
Odours from the landfill will be minimised as a consequence of the nature of the waste being accepted. Waste will be covered with inert materials following tipping. Gas extraction equipment will be installed as the waste volume increases and this will further reduce any risk of odour.
2. How high will the stack be and what will it look like? Why does it need to be so high?
The stack will be 90 metres in height, giving a level of 150m above sea level (AOD) at the top of the stack. It will comprise two narrow (c. 1m diameter) smooth grey pipes. This design has been selected to minimise the visual impact. The height has been determined as a result of an extensive air quality and dispersion modelling assessment and is set to ensure that any impacts upon human health and ecological interests (including Dartmoor) are minimised.
The electricity pylons in the vicinity of the site are approximately 45 metres high - the EfW building will be 40m high.
3. Will residents be able to hear the facility operating? Will we hear vehicle reversing bleepers?
Noise emissions from the facility have been assessed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment. Viridor will have to show that there is no significant increase in noise at residential properties. Lower frequency vehicle reversing ‘squawkers' are employed at many Viridor sites as this noise does not travel and is less intrusive than ‘bleepers'.
4. Why have background noise levels not been measured at all local properties?
A representative selection of noise-sensitive locations was chosen by Viridor's appointed independent experts in order to collect sufficient data to enable a noise assessment to be undertaken.
5. What noise would quarry operations make if they were re-opened?
Quarry operations would involve blasting, crushing, screening as well as significant open-air plant operations. This would be significantly noisier than the waste activities proposed.
It should be noted that it is not presently intended to re-open the quarry and the current valid planning consent that would enable this will be surrendered as part of this application.
6. Will there be light pollution coming from the facility?
Waste will only be delivered during limited working hours and it will not be necessary to provide external lighting outside these hours. Lighting inside the building will be designed to minimise light emissions in accordance with current standards.
It is likely that it will be necessary to install navigational red lights on the stack owing to the proximity of Plymouth Airport.
7. Can we see visuals of the site development?
Design images have been made available throughout the community consultation. These, along with all of the photomontages submitted with the application will be available on the application web-site once the application is submitted.
8. How will the development impact on views from local residential properties?
A full Landscape and Visual Impact assessment has been prepared to consider the effect of the development on the local landscape. The assessment has considered the views from over 15 locations in the area. The conclusion has been reached that the facility will be visible either wholly or partly from some of these locations, although the landscape, vegetation cover and buildings all play a part towards screening the scheme. The architectural design has also carefully considered this.
9. Will there be the opportunity for the roof to have "living grass", turf or plants to blend with the surrounding countryside?
Yes, the flatter part of the domed roof is designed to have a sedum roof. Sedum is a succulent plant which stores water.