Scheme to turn landfills into biofuel fields

Willow grown on former landfill sites will help test the viability of using contaminated brownfield land for biofuel production, as part of a pilot project launched by WRAP this week.

The scheme will see the soil of two former landfill sites in North East England enriched with compost made from garden waste and used to grow short rotation coppice willow that will then serve as biofuel for local use.

Dr Eric Evans of Land Remediation Services said: “We specified green waste compost for the project as it is the best form of organic matter to restore the poor quality soils with respect to improving water retention and nutrient levels.

“This makes it suitable for planting short rotation coppice willow for biofuel production.”

The Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) launched the scheme to test the cost-effectiveness of using low value brownfield sites like former landfills to grow biofuels. Health and safety regulations rule out the use of former rubbish dumps for agriculture, and they are seen to have great potential as low-cost land for biofuel production.

Previous pilot projects have found a 50% reduction in costs, WRAP said. The Lumley North and Coxhoe East sites near Newcastle, which cover an area of 60 hectares, are expected to yield around 20 tonnes per hectare per year.

Richard Swannell, Director of the Organics Programme at WRAP, said: “Previous trials have shown that using locally sourced quality PAS 100 compost as a soil improver, not only saves transportation and landfill costs, but also produces good quality, fertile soil making it suitable for a wide range of uses.

“These two trailblazer sites are the first to use quality compost in restoring the land for biofuel production.”

Goska Romanowicz

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