Javelin Park incinerator to break ground this summer
An update given to the Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee today (18 May) has confirmed that after the receiving approval for planning conditions set out in the council’s Construction Environment Management Plan in March, the project is making ‘good progress’ on the remaining conditions, with construction due to start ‘in the summer of 2016’.
The Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) project has been hugely controversial since it was first awarded a £500-million, 25-year GCC residual waste treatment contract in 2012. Construction was initially due to begin in the summer of 2013, with operations beginning this March, but the opposition from the council’s planning committee, sparked an appeals process that only ended in July last year.
Following the planning committee’s ruling that the facility’s technology would be ‘antiquated’ and ‘inflexible’ by the end of the contract, UBB appealed and in January 2015 then-Secretary of State Eric Pickles approved the plans. Stroud District Council then lodged a legal challenge of its own regarding Pickles’s ruling, which was only rejected by the High Court last July after several deferrals.
In November, the GCC cabinet voted to support a further £17-million payment to UBB to hasten the construction of the incinerator. GCC expects its contract with UBB to generate savings in excess of £150 million over its 25-year life, and Councillor Mark Hawthorne, leader of GCC, claimed that the payment would provide value for money, as the saving would free up funds for long-term frontline services.
Technology provider appointed
The planned facility will process up to 190,000 tonnes of residual household waste collected by local authorities in Gloucestershire each year, generating an estimated 116,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power round 26,000 homes. UBB also says that it will produce around 30,000 tonnes of aggregates a year, as well as recovering around 3,000 tonnes of metals each year throughout the contract.
Danish energy-from-waste technology producer Babcock & Wilcox Vølund has been appointed by UBB to provide the technology for the facility, which will include combustion equipment, a boiler, an air-cooled DynaGrate®, a steam turbine, generator, water treatment and control systems with a combined value of £73 million.
The company now expects to hand over the plant for operations in July 2019.
Announcing in February that the company had been chosen to provide the technology for the incinerator, B&W Vølund's Managing Director John Veje Olesen said: “We are looking forward to supplying a future-proof solution that uses the technology we are best at.
“Residents in Gloucestershire can benefit from Scandinavian experience with energy-from-waste plants, ideally located close to the city, right in the suburbs even, which are accepted completely by the neighbours. From 2019, Gloucestershire residents will receive the electricity from climate-friendly and clean waste treatment.”
Opposition facility raising funds
During the delay to construction, local plans for an alternative waste treatment facility have been developed. Plans for the Community R4C (Resource Recovery, Refining and Recycling Centre), which supporters claim will provide a ‘more safe, cost-effective and sustainable’ waste solution than the incinerator, were launched last August.
According to the community-led venture, which has been designed by local engineer Tom Jarman, the plant would turn more than 90 per cent of the county’s waste ‘into valuable materials for sale and reuse’. Under the R4C plans, recycled materials including glass, plastic, paper, metals and high-quality fuel pellets will be sold, with around a quarter of the profits – an estimated £5 million over 20 years – being used to fund other circular economy projects.
To bring in further investment for the project, R4C has created a crowd-funding campaign, ‘Trash to Treasure’, supported by actor Jeremy Irons, which has already raised over £20,000 of a £30,000 target, which must be achieved by 10 June.
TV chef, environmental campaigner and this year’s Resource Hot 100 winner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, has also supported the project, saying: “This is an inspiring project in so many ways. Viewing waste as a resource is a fundamentally rational approach and the environmental benefits are clear. At the moment, many completely recyclable items end up being incinerated or buried in landfill. This project addresses the problem, recovering vastly more useful material than traditional refuse schemes and leaving very little actual ‘waste’.
“It’s the way all rubbish should, and hopefully will, be treated in future. This is also a fantastic example of a community taking the initiative and setting the agenda when it comes to dealing with their own rubbish. Here’s hoping that other stakeholders will leap at the opportunity to support such an innovative and important project.”
Irons added: “When I presented [waste documentary] Trashed in Stroud last May, it was clear that campaigners against the proposed incinerator were exhausted by years of a struggle where democracy had failed, concern for the environment had been dismissed and the will of the people consistently ignored.
“When I urged them to ‘re-gird their loins and do something’, I aimed to encourage continued resistance. I’m delighted to discover that the community has actually gone several steps further and created a credible, healthier alternative solution that poses a genuine threat to the toxic monster they've been fighting.”
More information about the Community R4C project can be found on its website.