Resource Use

Derbyshire approves incinerator plans

Cabinet members at Derbyshire County Council and Derby City Council have approved plans to push ahead with Resource Recovery Solutions’s (RRS) incinerator in Sinfin.

Meetings held earlier this week (11 and 12 February) saw cabinet members to push ahead with the controversial plans, following a recommendation from councillors.

First proposed in 2009 by RRS (a wholly-owned subsidiary of waste management company, Shanks Group plc), once built, the £140-million incinerator at Sinfin Lane will have the capacity to process up to 190,000 tonnes of waste a year and divert up to 96.5 per cent of residents’ residual waste from landfill.

The plant will utilise mechanical biological treatment (MBT) to extract recyclable materials from residual waste before the remaining content goes through an incineration process to produce solid recovered fuel (SRF) to power an on-site gasification facility. This facility was expected to generate enough electricity to power 14,000 homes.

Incinerator background

Derby City Council originally turned down RRS’s application for the plant as it had ruled that the plant would interfere with recycling levels, but the decision was later overturned by High Court, after the company took the council into legal proceedings.

A second planning inquiry, triggered by the court proceedings, was granted by Planning Inspector Alan Robinson in September 2012, which saw RRS finalise the 27 year contract with Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council, worth an estimated £400 million.

The incinerator plans were met with local opposition, but a law suit brought by Sinfin, Spondon, and All Against Incineration (SSAIN) against Derby City Council’s decision to grant planning permission was dropped in November last year, after it was found there was ‘no way forward in this specific legal case'.

Steps ahead

As both councils have now given the plant the go-ahead, RRS expects it will begin construction later this year, creating up to 80 construction jobs.

The facility would then be expected to open on 1 April 2017 and will see the county council’s residual waste sent to the facility for processing for 25 years from this date.

Residual waste is currently disposed of at landfill, which the county council has said is ‘not environmentally or financially sustainable for the future’.

Continuing to dump waste in landfill sites is just not an option’

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Jobs, Economy, and Transport, Councillor Joan Dixon, said: “The county council needs to cut its budget by £157 million by 2018 and our current landfill bill is one we cannot afford in the future.

"We spend £17.3 million a year sending waste that isn't recycled or composted to landfill, including Landfill Tax which costs Derbyshire taxpayers more than £1 million a month. 

"We do not know how much landfill will cost in the future but it certainly won't cost less than it does now."

She added: "We are still committed to encouraging people to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost their waste. The waste facility will include an education centre, which schools and community groups can use to find out how to reduce waste, why we need to recycle and the environmental impacts of landfill.

“By 2020, we want residents in Derby and Derbyshire to be recycling at least 55 per cent of their waste but there is always going to be some waste which just cannot be recycled or composted and continuing to dump it in landfill sites is just not an option."

Councillor Paul Bayliss, Leader of Derby City Council added: "The city council has to ensure that Derby has a sustainable method of disposing of waste that isn't recycled. This has been a long term proposal, which has been determined to offer value for money and we remain committed to its success."

This recycling ambition has been called into question however, as Derby City Council is currently in the midst of a trial to remove recycling collections from 147 ‘inner city’ streets, which were deemed ‘not suited’ to the council’s full recycling collection scheme.

When contacted by Resource, a spokesperson for RRS said: "RRS have always been confident of the benefits of our technology, which will divert waste from landfill and create green energy in Derby and Derbyshire. We look forward to working with the councils to progress our plans to deliver this sustainable solution." 

UK incinerator overcapacity

The amount of incinerators in the UK has come under scrutiny recently, with 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.

Further to this, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) withdrew £217.1 million of funding for three incinerator PFI (private finance initiative) projects in February, after finding that the 29 energy-from-waste projects that already have funding are ‘sufficient’ to meet the EU’s 2020 landfill diversion targets.

Read more about this caseand residual waste treatment overcapacity