Resource Use

Runcorn EfW plant to see RDF deliveries quadruple


Waste management company Viridor and plastics producer INEOS Chlorvinyls won an appeal on Wednesday (5 March) to lift the restriction on the amount of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) that is allowed to be delivered to its energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in Runcorn by road.

In 2008, the Planning Inspectorate limited the amount of RDF that could be delivered to the site by road to 85,000 tonnes per year, after Halton Borough Council (HBC) argued that delivering 480,000 tonnes of RDF (as outlined in the planning permission document) would place heavy burdens on traffic and the highways.

Instead, Viridor was urged to deliver the majority of its RDF to the facility by rail.

At the time, Viridor insisted that the 85,000 tonne limit was ‘restrictive and unusual’ and appealed to the council to overturn this decision in 2013. However, following HBC’s refusal, an appeal was made to the Planning Inspectorate.

It was this appeal that has now been granted.

Speaking of the decision, Viridor Director of External Affairs Dan Cooke said: “We are pleased with this common-sense decision. This is a safe and sensible balance that will significantly boost the local economy, provide a cost-effective solution to local business and councils, and ensure that the facility can operate at maximum capacity.

“Viridor remains committed to maximising the amount of fuel that can be transported by rail to Runcorn. We appreciate local concern about traffic levels and would therefore like to point out that the result of this application equates to just a 0.2 per cent increase of current local levels. We will of course also enforce local routing agreements.”

Details of plant

The Runcorn combined heat and power (CHP) facility is being built in two stages, and once completed (scheduled for 2015), is expected to process up to 850,000 tonnes of RDF per year into 70 megawatts (MW) of electricity and ‘up to’ 51 MW of heat, to power INEOS ChlorVinyls’s neighbouring manufacturing chlorine and PVC manufacturing site.

The RDF will reportedly be produced from non-recyclable wastes arising from local authority (e.g. Greater Manchester) and local business contracts.

It is estimated that the facility will bring in a total of £452 million investment in Runcorn, creating around 80 permanent jobs within the facility and over 1100 people during construction.

The development is being delivered by a joint venture comprising Viridor, INEOS ChlorVinyls and John Laing, with funding from a combination of public and private finance. The facility will be operated by Viridor and will reportedly be ‘among the largest… [EfW plants] in Europe.’

Local opposition

There have been concerns expressed about the level of pollution the facility will cause.

The ‘Breathe Clean Air Group’ (BCAG) in Trafford said it was ‘saddened’ by the decision, which it maintains will bring more pollution into Manchester.

BCAG have protested against the plant for three years, since shortly after construction began in 2010. They had commended the previous decision made by Halton Borough Council to reject the increase.

BCAG Chair, Pete Kilvert, said: "I feel sorry for the people of Runcorn who will suffer from air pollution and the constant fumes from HGV thundering through their town to feed this monster. Also the people of Trafford, Salford and Manchester will be in the fall-out zone as emissions from this huge plant will be carried by the prevailing wind along the Mersey and Ship Canal Corridor.

“It is scandalous that the government allows these plants to pollute the air we breathe, at a time when the European Commission is prosecuting the UK for breaches of Safety regulations concerning air pollution."

Halton Action Group Against the Incinerator also opposed the scheme.

Read more about the Runcorn CHP facility.