Frequently Asked Questions
What is Energy-from-Waste (EfW)?
Energy-from-Waste (EfW), also known as waste to energy (WTE), is a process that uses household and commercial waste as fuel to create electricity. The waste is delivered to combustion chambers where it is burned at high temperatures and reduced to 10% of its original volume. The heat generated from combustion heats up water in steel tubes that form the walls of the combustion chambers. The water is turned to steam and sent through a turbine that continuously generates electricity and can also be used to provide heat energy where industrial and domestic needs can be served.
What kind of presence does EfW have globally?
EfW is a proven waste management solution used extensively worldwide. There are 780 facilities around the globe safely converting more than 140 million tons of waste per year into electricity. Countries that extensively utilize EfW include; Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, France, United States, Singapore, Japan and the UK. Many new facilities are being planned in Europe, Asia and North America.
Are EfW facilities better for the environment than landfills? What role does EfW play in climate change?
EfW is a sustainable solution; burying waste in a landfill is not. When waste is buried in landfills it decomposes and generates methane. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, over 30 times more potent than CO2. Therefore, with the objective of addresses climate change, the EU has issued a directive to limit the landfilling of biodegradable municipal solid waste to 35% of the quantity landfilled in 1995. EfW is a net reducer of greenhouse gas emissions because it does not create the methane landfill produces, in addition to offsetting the need to burn fossil fuels in power plants.
What about emissions from EfW facilities?
Modern EfW plants can only operate with a permit from the Environment Agency (EA) under the Pollution Prevention and Control regulations. Operators must continuously
monitor in real time and report emissions from the plant. The EA inspect facilities regularly and tightly enforces regulations. Importantly, the Health Protection Agency 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.
Why was the Rookery site chosen?
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.
Where will the waste come from?
Veolia will supply municipal, commercial and non-hazardous industrial residual waste from surrounding areas.
When will the plant be built?
It is anticipated that construction will commence by late 2017 with the Facility becoming operational in 2020.
How big will the plant be?
The ERF will convert approximately 480,000 tonnes of residual waste per year into over 50 MWe of electricity. That’s enough electricity equivalent to meet the needs of 65,000 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 3 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.
How many people will the Rookery South ERF employ?
The project will create more than 300 jobs during construction, with 40-50 permanent roles within the plant, including apprenticeships, during operation. During the peak construction period, the project will employ over 600 tradesmen and workers.
Will the waste come by rail?
Covanta and Veolia have researched the transport options on how residual waste could be brought to the Rookery South ERF. Rail has been considered as part of this study, but currently this is not viable. It remains a future option should suitable contract opportunities arise. We will also periodically assess the feasibility in having waste delivered by rail which our planning approvals also require us to do. A Route Management Plan has also developed to ensure that waste haulers do not travel through local settlements such as Stewartby, Marston Moretaine and Ampthill. Further information on the waste transport options is detailed in the Non Technical Summary and Preliminary Environmental Report.
What benefits will local people receive?
Covanta and Veolia recognise the importance of being part of the wider community. At Rookery South Pit, we propose to put in place a series of community benefits. From the beginning, several ways were identified to contribute to the local community. These included the development of a Community Trust Fund and a dedicated Forest of Marston Vale Trust Fund. The reconnection of rights of way within Rookery South Pit was also identified as a way in which to enhance the area. As part of the consultation process, Covanta was asked to work on a wide variety of community gain activities from the reduction of household bills to the improvement of village halls. Currently, Covanta and Veolia propose to:
• Introduce a discount scheme to reduce household energy bills;
• Provide a Community Trust Fund;
• Provide education and community facilities;
• Enhance footpaths;
• Enhance the Forest of Marston Vale through a separate Forest of Marston Vale Trust Fund.
Will the facility smell and attract vermin?
No. Waste that cannot be recycled will be delivered by road to the tipping hall into the facility where it will be tipped into a bunker within the building. The building will operate under a negative air pressure which prevents air and odours from escaping. The facility will be subject to strict monitoring by the Government’s Environment Agency.
Will the facility be noisy?
During the planning process, noised was carefully considered and assessed using computer modelling of the proposed building and equipment. The companies are using Government guidance on environmental noise, together with other standards, to establish suitable noise standards for the ERF. The computer model’s calculations have been compared with the standards and where targets would not be met, modifications to the layout and design of the facility have been made. The resulting noise mitigation has included the specification of high-performance acoustic framed-openings with movable slats and quiet condenser fans. Initial calculations of construction noise indicate that this will be well below recommended criteria. The preliminary assessment for operational noise indicates that the predicted noise from the facility will be generally below the target. The initial assessment of changes in traffic noise on the wider road network shows only small noise increases on all of the links.
What will be the impact of traffic?
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 is proposing 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;
• Improvements to the footway/cycleway provision on Green Lane – potentially creating a second public access into The Forest Centre and Millennium Country Park;
• Exploring the provision of contributions to upgrade the Green Lane level crossing;
• Reconnection of severed footpaths and creation of new footpaths and cycleways.