Gasification plant debate heats up

The Green Party plans to take its fight against a proposed gasification plant to the wire as it argues against the installation at the final planning hearing this week.

Novera Energy maintains that its planned plant in Rainham would be part of a sustainable solution for London’s waste but the Greens argue that significant amounts of paper and plastic would be diverted away from recycling to feed the facility.

Following consultation on its waste strategy review, Government’s position remains that recycling trumps waste from energy in the waste hierarchy (see related story) but it acknowledges that at some point waste disposal authorities will have to decide when it becomes impractical and uneconomic to try to recycle more municipal waste than they are already and at this stage incineration is probably the best option.

Local authorities will be largely left to make these decisions on their own.

Novera’s environmental statement on the planned plant says its Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) will largely be made up of paper, textiles, wood and plastic which the Greens hold means gasifying materials which might otherwise be recycled.

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, has formally objected to the plant and says that if it goes ahead it would raise question marks over the city’s commitment to sustainable waste management.

“Though the technology of the proposed plant is not identical to a mass-burn

incinerator, the EU Waste Directive’s definition of incineration does cover Novera Energy’s proposals.

“Given the facility’s feedstock requirements, we are in danger of redirecting recyclable materials away from recycling.

“With London’s Sustainable waste strategy combined with efforts to encourage recycling and meet targets it is astonishing that this application for planning has come this far. If the capital is serious about becoming a sustainable city it should not even be considering a unit such as this.”

But Novera told edie the plant would be fuelled by residual waste left over from the recycling process.

“The fuel Novera plan to use has already been through a materials separation and recycling process, at Shanks Frog Island facility, designed to meet government targets for waste recycling,” said the company’s John Howson.

“The London Borough of Havering approved the Frog Island facility in the full knowledge that there would be a residue that could be used as a fuel and that the developer at Frog Island would be seeking such outlets.

“In summary, Novera will be using a fuel which is left over after separation and recycling, to generate energy to help power a local user.”

Sam Bond

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