Planning application for UK's first waste-to-jet fuel plant given green light

A planning application backed by Shell and British Airways to create the UK's first commercial-scale waste-to-jet fuel plant in North East Lincolnshire has been granted planning permission.

The coalition of companies aims to begin construction in 2022, subject to additional funding, and the facility could be operational by 2025

The coalition of companies aims to begin construction in 2022, subject to additional funding, and the facility could be operational by 2025

Altalto Immingham, a subsidiary renewable fuel developer Velocys, submitted the planning request in August 2019. The company, which has been set up in collaboration with British Airways and Shell has this week confirmed that the North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC)’s Planning Committee has approved the request to build Europe's first commercial-scale plant to transform waste into low-carbon jet fuel, with a site chosen in North East Lincolnshire.

The site is expected to take hundreds of tonnes of black bag household and commercial waste to turn it into green fuel to be used by the aviation industry. It is expected to create 130 permanent skilled jobs and many more during construction.

The coalition of companies aims to begin construction in 2022, subject to additional funding, and the facility could be operational by 2025.

Velocys’s chief executive Henrik Wareborn said: “It’s fantastic news that the Planning Committee has approved our waste-to-jet-fuel project, which will be a first for the UK. Sustainable aviation fuels are essential for decarbonising this challenging sector and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

“That’s why Velocys is calling on the Government to co-ordinate policy between departments to help us fund a fleet of world-leading sustainable aviation fuel facilities in the UK.”

According to Velocys, the new fuel enables a 70% net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for each tonne that replaces traditional fuel. The emission savings from the plant’s annual output is equivalent to taking up to 40,000 cars off the road. Up to 20 million gallons of sustainable jet fuel could be produced annually.

The fuel will also improve air quality, including a 90% reduction in soot and particulate matter from aircraft engine exhausts and almost a 100% reduction in sulphur dioxides. Further added benefits include offering a lower-emissions route to process waste in the UK, compared to landfill and incineration.

The development will also improve the UK’s domestic fuel supply, with 70% currently imported from abroad. The plant is expected to attract millions of pounds of investment and 130 permanent jobs.

Net-zero assistance

The move forms part of British Airways’s £6.5bn investment in modernising its fleet and practices in order to drive sustainability. The company has formed a strategic partnership with Velocys which has been running for multiple years.

In October 2019, International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways (BA), became first airline group to commit to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, as BA also announced plans to offset all domestic passenger flight emissions in 2020, before flights were restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, Shell unveiled its net-zero commitment for 2050.

Key members of the UK aviation industry, including Boeing, Virgin Atlantic and London City Airport are among a coalition that has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the sector by 2050, to assist with the UK's overall net-zero strategy.

roadmap to accompany the launch suggests the sector believes it can accommodate a 70% increase in passengers by 2050, while reducing carbon emissions from more than 30 million tonnes a year to net-zero. New aircraft and engine technology and smarter flight operations have been heralded as some of the solutions to support the transition.

Matt Mace 



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