Viridor is happy to discuss its proposals for an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant at Beddington 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:
- About the technology and inputs
- Planning and the local environment
- About Viridor
About the technology and inputs
What is Anaerobic Digestion and how does it work?
Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is the process where plant and animal material (biomass) is converted into useful products by micro-organisms in the absence of air. Biomass is put inside sealed tanks and naturally occurring micro-organisms digest it, releasing methane that can be used to provide heat and power. This means AD can help reduce fossil fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The material left over at the end of the process is rich in nutrients so it can be used as fertiliser.
AD is not a new technology - it has actually been used in the UK since the 1800s - and there are a growing number of AD plants in the UK processing our waste and producing energy.
What are the advantages of AD?
- It turns waste into a resource. Instead of sending waste to landfill, we can use it to produce energy and fertiliser.
- It produces fuel. Biogas can be used instead of fossil fuels.
- It produces fertiliser. Fertilisers are made from fossil fuels. The digestate from AD can replace some synthetic fertilisers.
- It reduces our carbon footprint. The methane produced during AD is burned as fuel, and therefore releases CO2 into the atmosphere. Because it comes from biomass, this does not contribute to climate change. However, if the same waste was left to degrade in a landfill site, the methane produced could escape into the atmosphere: methane has a global warming potential 23 times larger than that of CO2. Therefore, harvesting and using methane from biomass can help to prevent climate change.
Where will the food waste come from?
All of the food waste treated at the proposed AD plant at our Beddington site will come from households in the South London Waste Partnership's area, which comprises the London Boroughs of Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton.
What other AD plants are operational in the UK
AD has been used for many years in this country by the water industry. It currently treats 66 per cent of the UK's sewage sludge in AD plants. Beyond the water industry AD in the UK is in its infancy, but growing rapidly. There are currently fewer than 40 AD plants in the UK producing bio-energy. You can see the locations of operational AD plants on the Biogas Map . There are further AD plants in the planning stages.
Planning and local environment
When would work start on the new facilities?
It is envisaged that construction of the facility would commence during the summer 2010, subject to planning consent being granted.
Will local residents be affected by noise from the site?
No. A noise assessment has been undertaken as part of the planning application. Noise issues relating to the operation of the proposed development were considered at the nearest noise sensitive receptors around the site.
The assessment concluded that the predicted noise levels generated by the AD facility and associated infrastructure will be well below the background noise levels at all locations assessed, thus will meet the requirement of the London Borough of Sutton.
Will local residents be affected by odours from the AD plant?
No. There is some odour associated with the organic material that goes into a digester. However, AD can actually reduce nuisance odours as waste is delivered in closed vessels and vehicles, received in a closed reception area, and the digestion process takes place in a sealed tank.
Will local residents be affected by an increase on traffic levels?
No. The traffic assessment indicates that there would not be a significant impact on traffic levels in the area. It is estimated that only four or five additional lorries per day will access the site as a result of the proposed development.
Will local wildlife be affected by the proposed AD development?
No. An ecological impact assessment has been conducted and the proposed development should result in a slight positive impact on local wildlife. The facility is being built on previously developed land and a number of enhancements for wildlife are being incorporated into the design. Birds will particularly benefit, with increased nesting opportunities being provided for barn owls, swifts and tree sparrows.
Does Viridor operate any AD plants in the UK?
Not at present, but is in the process of building four facilities in Greater Manchester. In addition, Viridor is one of UK's the leading recycling, waste management and renewable energy companies.
It operates over 230 facilities in the UK, including Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs), composting plants, Household Waste Recycling Centres, Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) recycling plants and fully-engineered landfill sites.
Viridor generates 101MW of electricity which is supplied to the National Grid - enough electricity to supply the domestic needs for a city the size of Bristol.
Does Viridor have a good environmental record?
Yes. Viridor was the first in the waste industry to gain ISO 14001, the highest international accreditation for continual environmental management, across all major facilities after introducing its exemplary Environmental Management System in the 1990s.
Vridor's environmental policy and annual corporate responsibility report are available to download