Sustainability

Shanks to construct waste facility in South Kirkby

Waste management company, Shanks Group plc, has announced that it has signed a 25-year private finance initiative (PFI) contract with Wakefield Council.

The deal, worth an estimated £750 million, will see Shanks construct a residual waste treatment facility in South Kirkby, Yorkshire.

According to Shanks, the facility will have the capacity to process up to 230,000 tonnes of municipal waste per annum, increasing the council’s landfill diversion rate ‘towards 90 per cent’.

Investment from the UK Green Investment Bank is being used to fund the project, with additional financial resources coming from international banks such as Barclays, Bayern LB and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

Peter DilnotChief Executive of Shanks Group plc, Peter Dilnot, said: “We are delighted to have signed this contract with Wakefield Council and look forward to working with the authority and local residents to increase their diversion from landfill.

“Our solution will help them make more from the waste they produce by increasing recycling, generating green energy and producing compost for land remediation and use by residents.”

Dilnot added that he was ‘excited’ that the Green Investment Bank had chosen the Wakefield plants as one of its ‘first major investments’.

Mix of technologies 

As it arrives at the facility, municipal waste will undergo mechanical treatment and sorting in order to separate off materials that can be used to produce a ‘refuse derived fuel’ for consumption at the Ferry Bridge Power Station.

Any mixed recyclate material separated at the facility will pass through an on-site materials recovery facility (MRF) for use by ‘specialist markets’.

Organic waste will then be sterilised in a ‘state-of-the-art’ autoclave, before being fed into a 65,000 tonne anaerobic digestion (AD) plant. The resultant biogas will be used to power the plant, with any remaining electricity being fed back onto the national grid. The ‘nutrient rich’ residue from the AD process will be used to condition soil.

Furthermore, green waste will be broken down in an ‘air controlled composting plant’, the compost from which will be used by residents and ‘land remediation schemes’ across Wakefield District, as well as further afield.

‘Jobs and investment’

According to Shanks, the construction of the residual waste treatment facility is set to create in the region of 250 construction jobs, in addition to 60 permanent positions once the facility has been completed.

Leader of Wakefield Council, Peter Box, said: “We are very pleased that this agreement has been signed with Shanks Group plc to manage the district’s waste and recycling. It is excellent news for the district, bringing jobs and investment, as well as improving a service which is always high on the public’s agenda.

“It gives us the opportunity to safeguard jobs of current employees who work in this area and provide new jobs in one of the most deprived areas in the District with the building and opening of the new waste treatment plant in South Kirkby.”

Under the contract, Shanks is also set to assume control of a number of household waste recycling centres (HWRCs), transfer stations and bring sites, and ‘improve waste education’ in the area with the construction of an on-site visitor centre.

Joanne Roney OBE, Chief Executive of Wakefield Council, added: “This is a big step forward in how a key public service is delivered in the district. The agreement means investment in household waste collection and recycling and more jobs for the district.

“It has been a long journey and at times challenging, but throughout the negotiations we have never lost sight of the need for additional finance to deliver a waste management system for the future.

“I am very pleased that this 25-year contract has now been signed and we can move on to concentrate on the job of improving waste and recycling services for everyone in the District and protecting the environment."

Overcapacity

The new facility is one of a growing number of energy-from-waste plants being approved and built in the UK, despite a recent report from Eunomia Research & Consulting suggesting that the UK could see overcapacity in residual waste treatment plants by 2015, if the current rate of construction is not curbed.

The report suggests that due to increased emphasis on recycling, reusing and recovering material, residual waste rates are falling, leaving incinerators without the required levels of waste needed to produce efficient and cost-effective processes.

It is feared that this would lead to more recyclable materials being sent for incineration to “feed” the plants.

It is hoped the new contract will see recycling and composting rates increase to 52 per cent, meaning that if the 90 per cent diversion figure is reached, around 40 of Wakefield's waste would be sent for energy recovery.