A: Energy-from-Waste (EfW) is a process that recovers the energy content in non-recyclable household and commercial waste with similar properties, by using it as a fuel in a modern largely renewable electricity generation facilities. The waste is delivered to combustion chambers where it is combusted at high temperatures and reduced to 10 percent of its original volume. The heat generated from the combustion chambers heats up water in steel tubes that form the walls of the combustion chambers. The water is converted to steam and delivered to a turbine that continuously generates electricity and is delivered to the local households and businesses.
Prior to safely landfilling the inert ash, ferrous metals such as iron and steel, together with non-ferrous metals, such as copper and aluminium, are removed from the ash residue and sent to recycling facilities. In the UK, the ash residue can be used as an aggregate by the construction industry.
A: Modern EfW plants in England can only operate with an Environmental Permit from the Environment Agency (EA) under the Pollution Prevention and Control regulations. Other parts of the UK have their own respective agencies with similar powers. Operators must continuously monitor in real time and report emissions from the plant. The EA inspect facilities regularly and tightly enforces regulations. Importantly, Public Health England reviewed the latest scientific evidence on the health effects of modern incinerators and concluded in its position paper (3rd September 2009), that any potential damage from modern, well run and regulated incinerators is likely to be so small that it would be undetectable.
The UK’s Environmental Services Association (ESA) puts EfW emissions into context, stating ‘in 2015 home wood burners generated 785 times more particulate matter, while road traffic emitted 45 times more NOx, and Bonfire Night alone produced 10 times more dioxins than EfW across the whole year.’
Public Health England reviewed the latest scientific evidence on the health effects of modern incinerators and concluded in its position paper (3rd September 2009), that any potential damage from modern, well run and regulated incinerators is likely to be so small that it would be undetectable.
A: As opposed to open burning and wild fires, the facility will use state-of-the-art emissions controls to capture and control particulate matter. Operating like a very efficient vacuum cleaner, the filters in the baghouse remove 99.5 percent of the particulate matter from combustion gases.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has reviewed research undertaken to examine the suggested links between emissions from municipal waste incinerators and effects on health. The HPA 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. The Agency, not least through its role in advising Primary Care Trusts and Local Health Boards, will continue to work with regulators to ensure that incinerators do not contribute significantly to ill health.’
A: The Environment Agency’s modelling specialists have audited the dispersion modelling. This audit included checking the background emissions levels and the weather data used by Covanta, including using our own weather data from Bedford.
In addition, Covanta has conducted a number of case studies investigating the likely dispersion impacts of such conditions, including the assessment of the initial Rookery South ERF application in 2011. These studies found that although these conditions could lead to increases in the long-term and short-term Process Contributions (PCs), the variability is within any modelling uncertainties. As a result, these conclusions are not likely to change.
A: The Rookery South site, located within the Northern Marston Vale Growth area, was chosen after an extensive search in this region. Covanta originally looked at over 340 sites and Rookery Pit South was considered the most suitable. The site is an appropriate location to develop the Project because:
- It avoids those areas most protected by policy e.g. Greenbelt;
- It is accessible by a suitable road network, and offers the potential for rail transport in the future;
- It is capable of providing enough space to avoid local adverse environmental impacts;
- It is centrally located enabling the required waste management and energy supply capacity to be provided in a strategically advantageous position;
- It’s located in a former clay extraction pit which is around 10 metres lower than the surrounding land which will reduce the facility’s visual profile; and
- The Marston Vale is expected to see significant levels of new housing and industry development. This increases the opportunity for the facility to supply homes and businesses with low carbon steam or heat from the facility.
- Rookery South is identified in Bedfordshire’s Minerals and Waste Local Plan as a potential site for development of waste treatment and disposal facilities.
A: The ERF will convert over 545,000 tonnes of residual waste per year into over 60 MWe of electricity. That’s enough electricity equivalent to meet the needs of 112,500 homes, or, to put this into context, the Rookery South facility will capable of powering a town larger than Bedford which has around 70,000 homes.
The Rookery South Pit site is 95 hectares and the ERF will occupy approximately 10 hectares of the total area. The ERF location and orientation is designed to keep the visual impact on the surrounding area to a minimum and to also reduce potential noise. The presence of the ERF was reduced further through the selection of a single combined stack as it appeared a more elegant feature than the three stack option which emphasised the stacks within the landscape. The height of the ERF is also at the lower end of the range when compared with other UK EfW plants.
Rookery South Pit has a permanent pumping station operating on demand to prevent accumulation of water and flooding.
Integrating heat off-take into the facility would further increase the plant’s efficiency and put available waste materials to even better use. While we do not currently have a heat off-taker in place, we have already had enquiries from potential heat off-takers for both district heating and commercial applications. We are keen and ready to engage with all interested parties who wish to discuss their requirements with us.
Even with a significant increase in recycling with robust recycling markets, there will continue to be residual waste that will need EfW treatment. The UK has a significant shortage of energy-from-waste treatment capacity and the Rookery South facility will provide much-needed treatment capacity for household and non-hazardous commercial and industrial waste.
In the future this need is likely to escalate as availability of the export market decreases and cost of export increases.
A: Site and road safety are top priorities at all times. At the main site entrance and exit point of the Rookery South site there is a dedicated wheel wash that all vehicles can use if the weather conditions are poor. In addition, the project’s EPC contractor and all site workers will be encouraged to keep an eye on local road conditions and report any sightings of mud on local roads that come from the Rookery South construction site.
We also have a similar proactive approach when members of the public report mud on local roads and we would continue to encourage anyone to get in contact with the project team at the earliest opportunity.
During the peak construction period, the project will employ over 600 construction operatives.
A: There will be two recruitment phases. Firstly, the largest number of roles will be required across the three-year construction phase and, secondly, the search and selection for the plant’s future operations team.
For construction opportunities, the ERF’s principal Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractor, Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) will appoint subcontractors and they will recruit the construction workforce at various stages of the build phase. This will create more than 300 jobs, which, at the peak of the construction period, is likely to employ over 600 tradespeople. Importantly, HZI contractor and all subcontractors will recruit locally wherever possible.
The next recruitment phase will be for over 50 new full-time operational roles and apprenticeships at the facility. We will need individuals to fill positions as diverse as Engineers, Shift Supervisors, Mechanics and even administrative staff. These jobs will be advertised well in advance of the commissioning of the ERF, starting in 2020. The positions will be promoted locally in the media, at Job Centre Plus, via local authorities and the project’s dedicated website.
- The Rookery South Community Energy Initiative (which is a first for a UK energy-from-waste project) for around 9.000 households
- Community Trust Fund (£150k initial before COD/then £50k each/year of operations)
- Education and Visitor Centre
- Footpath and cycle path enhancements enabling improved access to Rookery pit
- Marston Vale Trust Fund (Initial £250k, then £50k/year)
- Contribution to Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway project (Design £200k/Construction £3.175 million) – enabling a linking part of the ‘jigsaw’ to be put in place
- Millennium Country Park planting scheme (trees and shrubs to the value of £32.8k)
- Employment and training opportunities (apprenticeships)
- Around 320 construction jobs
- Around 60 new operational jobs
- Indirect employment via local suppliers including catering and accommodation during construction
- Level crossing safety upgrade funded by Covanta
- Restoration of the Rookery South pit to a beneficial use
We value the views and opinions of our neighbours and look forward to building open and transparent relationships. If you would like to find out more or be involved in the CLP, please email us here. Alternatively, click on this link to find out more about the Rookery South CLP, previous meetings or minutes.
Integrating heat off-take into the Facility would further increase its efficiency and put available waste materials to even better use. While we do not currently have a heat off-taker in place, we have already had enquiries from potential heat off-takers for both district heating and commercial applications. We are keen and ready to engage with all interested parties who wish to discuss their requirements with us.
A: Transport and access to the site and the impact of deliveries and people employed at the ERF is the subject of a full Transport Study, which has taken on comments by the Highway Authorities. Measures that Covanta will take to minimise and enhance traffic and access impacts include:
- Restrictions on delivery hours and a controlled and monitored HGV Route Management Plan.
- A new junction with a right turning lane on Green Lane to provide access to the Facility, the six weeks of works will commence on 7 January 2019 and will be completed by 17 February 2019;
- Improvements to the footway/cycleway provision on Green Lane – potentially creating a second public access into The Forest Centre and Millennium Country Park;
- Funding for the upgrade of the Green Lane level crossing;
- Reconnection of severed footpaths and creation of new footpaths and cycleways.
During the operational phase, we expect around 100 HGVs bringing in waste each day and 25 taking ash away for recycling and/or secure disposal. That’s 125 in and 125 out - nowhere near 600 vehicles which is often misquoted.
The tipping hall at the Rookery South ERF has been engineered to ensure that when HGVs deliver residual waste to the plant, the vehicles firstly enter the tipping hall area and then reverse to tip their loads directly into the waste bunker. As the tipping hall and waste bunker are in an enclosed building, this further reduces the risk of windblown litter and noise from within the facility.
Covanta, the Green Investment Group and Veolia strive to be a responsible owner, operator and good neighbour in the communities where we operate. Our staff are committed to a clean and environmentally safe operating environment in our facilities and the surrounding environments. If litter or waste is spotted near the ERF and reported to us, we will ensure that it is investigated and, if necessary, cleaned up as soon as possible.