The waste contractor expects a yield of up to 300 tonnes of carbon neutral biomass fuel a year once the crop is established.

The 30 hectare sites in Darrington, West Yorkshire and Calverton, Nottinghamshire have been sown with a fast-growing annual miscanthus grass crop which will be sent to Drax power station to be used as a fuel to generate low carbon electricity.

FCC Environment has more than 200 hectares on 24 former landfill sites currently in production and aim to get more sites up and running “in the coming months and years”.

The company specifically selects crops which will aid the long-term restoration of the sites often helping return the land to agricultural use.

Miscanthus grass is one of the main preferred crops as the plants’ deep root systems give structure to the soil by adding biodegradable matter and aerating it.

FCC Environment senior restoration and energy crops manager Mark Pailing said: “Energy security and resource scarcity are two of the key themes of our age and using former landfill sites to grow crops for the generation of carbon-neutral energy is part of our response.”

Crops being grown on FCC Environment’s sites include miscanthus grass, short rotation willow coppice and maize.

In addition, the company is planning to use treated landfill leachate in a controlled irrigation system to water crops on some of its landfill sites.

Conor McGlone

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie