£122m green light for council waste plant

The government has given Staffordshire County Council £122.4m to build a hi-tech energy-from-waste plant to cut landfill levels and generate electricity.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has approved an application for £122.4 million in PFI credits for a plant at Four Ashes Industrial Estate in the south of the county.

The council says the plant, which is part of the council’s household waste management scheme, will divert 300,000 tonnes of waste from landfill and generate electricity to power 24,000 homes.

Waste minister Joan Ruddock welcomed the plans, saying: “Staffordshire’s waste plans have important contributions to make on minimisation, recycling and waste diversion.

“A combination of these activities is essential if we are to be successful in our drive to tackle climate change.

“I am pleased to see the authority pursuing an ambitious solution which can achieve major carbon benefits.”

The council is considering building a combined heat and power (CHP) plant to help it hit a recycling and composting rate of 55% by 2020 – 5% above the national target.

It could make net carbon savings of 47,000 tonnes in 2019-2020 compared with today rising to 56,000 if the council delivers CHP from the operation.

Councillor John Taylor, county council leader, said: “This cash means we can deliver the maximum benefits for the people of Staffordshire with the minimum possible costs to the council tax payer.

“We can maximise recycling, reduce unpopular landfill operations and generate energy.”

The council will now advertise in the Official Journal of the European Union for potential bidders for the project.

Plans for Staffordshire’s waste-to-energy plant have been lodged with the planning authority and are open for comment until the end of the summer.

More details on the project can be found here.

Meanwhile, DEFRA has also given £73.5m to the South Tyne and Wear Waste Partnership to develop a waste treatment plant.

The partnership deals with the waste from Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland councils.

David Gibbs

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