Decision on Nottinghamshire gasification facility delayed

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has delayed a decision whether to grant planning permission for an experimental plasma arc gasification facility in Nottinghamshire, stating it was ‘not yet in a position to decide.’

The £70-million facility at the former Bilsthorpe Colliery, which if built will also include a materials recovery facility and energy generation infrastructure, was proposed by Waste2Tricity and Peel Environmental.

The project was given the go ahead by Nottingham County Council in 2014, but Eric Pickles, then Secretary of State for the DCLG, stepped in to delay the project.Decision on Nottinghamshire gasification facility delayed

The reason given for delaying the decision, which was due to be made yesterday (11 April), was the recent withdrawal of Air Products from its energy-from-waste (EfW) business. The American gas company abandoned a facility due to use similar technology to the Waste2Tricity plant, which was in construction in the Tees Valley due to ‘design and operational challenges.’

In light of this development, DCLG has invited comments on the new facility to allow it to come to a fully informed decision on the project. The deadline for comments is 26 April and a decision on planning will not be made till May at the earliest.

Tees Valley Project

American company Air products announced on 4 April that it is exiting from its EfW business due to its failure to overcome technological difficulties at its experimental Tees Valley site.

Two identical incinerators were due to be built near Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, Tees Valley 1 and 2, and construction had already begun on the second project. These plants, if built, would produce gas from refuse-derived fuel using similar technology to the proposed Bilsthorpe facility.

The company has now halted all construction at both sites, stating that ‘additional design and operational challenges would require significant time and cost to rectify’ and that the continuation of the project was no longer in the best interests of the company.

Following the announcement, the company is now prepared to write-down nearly $1 billion (more than £700 million) in assets associated with its gasification business.

An “opportunity to comment”

A letter sent from DCLG to parties to the inquiry stated: ‘In view of this announcement by Air Products, and the fact that it was not disputed at the inquiry that the Bilsthorpe Energy Centre would use the same technology, the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to give the parties to the Bilsthorpe case an opportunity to comment on any implications which the reasons leading to this announcement might have for the Bilsthorpe scheme as currently proposed.’

Responding to the announcement, Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator at the United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN), who gave evidence at the public inquiry for the Bilsthorpe application, said: “The Bilsthorpe facility is proposed to use an even more experimental variation of the plasma gasification technology that Air Products failed to get to work in Tees Valley. How much more money do Waste2Tricity and Peel intend to squander on this unwanted and unnecessary proposal before they follow Air Product’s lead and give up on this failed technology?”

More information about the proposed facility is available at the Peel Environmental website.