Essex County Council grant MBT planning permission


Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) has been granted planning permission by Essex County Council to build a new Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility at Courtauld Road, Basildon.

The facility will treat all residual waste generated by householders in Essex and Southend in an attempt to improve ‘sustainable waste management in the county’.

Currently, 51.8 per cent of household waste in Essex is composted or recycled, with councils in the Essex Waste Partnership having agreed to increase this figure to 60 per cent by 2020.

Planning permission for the 417,000 tonnes per annum facility was first submitted in March 2012 and with yesterday’s (7 February) decision to grant planning permission, construction work is now set to commence ‘in the spring’.

It is expected to take 16 months to complete and will include a visitor centre and ‘outdoor education zone’.


Once delivered to the site, residual waste will be transferred to a sealed bunker designed to minimise noise pollution and problems with vermin. Following this, it is mechanically processed to sort and separate any recyclates, which are then sent for reprocessing elsewhere.

The remaining waste is composted over a seven-week period to remove moisture and biodegrade. The degraded material is then refined to ‘extract minerals’ for use as construction aggregate.

Whatever remains of the original feedstock is then used to create either stabilised output material for use in landfill, or solid recovered fuel that can be incinerated for energy recovery.

Leachate produced as part of the treatment process is collected below the facility and transferred to an on-site waste water treatment facility, to reduce the risk of water pollution. Similarly, air expelled at the site is ‘scrubbed’ and filtered before being returned to the atmosphere in an attempt to mitigate potential odour issues.

Planning for population and housing growth

When asked why UBB had decided to build a 417,000 tonne capacity plant when the county only produced 313,000 tonnes of residual waste in 2011/12 spokesperson for UBB, Paula Boyce, told Resource: “The size of the facility has been determined so as to be able to treat all the residual household waste generated within Essex and Southend taking seasonal fluctuations into account.

“The remaining capacity is to accommodate business waste similar in nature to household waste from Essex and Southend, for example from offices and caterers.

“The size of the facility provides a cost-effective solution and takes into account several factors such as local recycling and composting targets, population and housing growth predictions, new recycling schemes in the pipeline and proposed plans for treating organic waste in the county.”

Project Director for UBB Richard Lancaster, said: “We are thrilled to have been given planning approval to start works on the site.  Preparations have now begun and construction will start in the spring.  This is an important project for Essex and Southend and will bring both economic and environmental benefits to the area.

“We would like to thank all of the local residents who took part in the pre-planning consultation.  We are continuing to engage with the local community through a community liaison group which will meet regularly throughout the construction phase and beyond.”

Jobs and Education

The construction process is expected to generate up to 250 jobs, with 85 permanent jobs created upon completion.

UBB have guaranteed to give any local resident who meets the job specifications a formal interview and have pledged to implement the Balfour Beatty Apprenticeship Scheme during the construction phase, which will see seven per cent of the workforce made up of apprentices.

Two additional apprentices will be brought in on a bi-annual basis.

Local Concern

Last year, local residents raised concerns with UBB over potential traffic problems as a result of the construction and operation of the facility.

According to UBB, the construction phase of the project would see 96 vehicles arrive on site ‘in a 12 hour period’, 50 of which would be HGVs. Once operational traffic figures are expected to rise to 302 ‘in a 12 hour period’, 206 of which would be HGVs.

However, UBB argues that the facility ‘will be treating waste that is already transported by road around the county’ and that the preferred route is composed mainly of wider roads.

Read more about the MBT proposals.