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March 31st 2015

The recent decision by Northamptonshire County Council to grant Drenl permission to extend the catchment area for the sourcing of waste for its facility has prompted much comment. This note seeks to clarify the situation and address the points raised.

Waste Management in Northamptonshire
Once our facility is up and running, it will process waste for generating electricity and recycling; this waste would normally have gone to landfill.

In 2013, within a 30 mile area of our Corby facility, there were 2.2 million tonnes of local waste arising, 39% of which ended up in landfill and 400,000 tonnes was exported to Europe.

Our facility will utilise 120,000 tonnes of this 2.2m to provide an alternative to landfill: ie our facility will process just 5.5% of Northamptonshire’s waste.

Several of the largest landfills in the country are within Northamptonshire. Given the increasing pressure on land and that existing landfill sites are filling up (as well as having an environmental impact – emissions and the risk of leaching into ground water), there is acceptance that alternative, long-term waste management options should be pursued: the options include advanced thermal treatment and increased levels of recycling. Our facility will deliver both.

The Drenl facility
Our modern facility will only process commercial and industrial waste (not household) – eg packaging, cardboard, office building waste etc. We will have strict guidelines as to what we accept, giving us control over what comes out of our plant and we will have robust procedures in place for dealing with unacceptable waste which may be delivered to the site by our contractors. These include, amongst others, notifying the UK Environment Agency (EA), which we are obliged to do under the terms of our Waste Management Licence.

The facility will operate within strict environment limits. These are laid down by the EA, which in turn will regularly monitor the facility’s operations. Given the advanced thermal treatment technology that we will be using (not burning nor incineration) to generate renewable electricity, carbon dioxide will be the main emission.

As part of the requirements set by the EA, a human health risk assessment must be undertaken and submitted; the results of which concluded that ‘the risk of adverse human health effects occurring due to the emission from the facility is low or effectively zero’. There are no adverse effects to health using this type of technology; it is not incineration. This website carries an explanation of the technology that we will use; it is also termed as “advanced gasification”.

Planning history
Our facility secured local authority planning consent in 2009 and preliminary construction started last year. The permission to extend the catchment area, received on 17th March, followed a period of public consultation; it enables us to source waste, up to a 90 minute drive time from the facility. The permission does not increase the waste per year to be processed at the facility nor increase the level of HGV movements to and from the facility – likely to be 20 HGVs loads per day.

Transporting waste
Whilst we can now have permission to go further afield for our waste, it is and always has been our intention to source the waste from as close as possible to the facility: there is no financial incentive to transport waste from long distances given the extra cost to do so. However, the permission granted now provides us with a fall-back option if there is ever a lack of waste in the County over the plant’s lifespan. We need a secure fuel source to run the plant.

Economic benefit
60 permanent new jobs will be created, on top of the 200 jobs needed during the facility’s construction. The scheme will generate electricity for up to 18,000 homes and could provide heat and energy to nearby commercial units. On the Gretton Brooks Road industrial estate, there are businesses that employ around 200 people; these local businesses could benefit from our facility.

Subject to financing, we are expecting the main construction works to start later this year. It is a two-year build so this modern and efficient facility should be open in 2017.