Concerns over Rivenhall incinerator planning

A Green Party councillor has written to ECC asking that a new application should be submitted after complaining that a planned incinerator plant would not be built in the way it was set out in planning.

Cllr James Abbott says that Gent Fairhead and Indaver – the operators of the new Rivenhall incinerator – said they told a private meeting on Friday, February 26, that they intend to start building but only the incinerator part of the project. This is despite the planning permission saying that it must be integrated with the paper plant and recycling function.

Cllr Abbott claimed that when they get to 2025, when the incinerator will be built, the operators might look at building the other parts and they intend to phase it, but he says that was ruled out in earlier planning discussions.

He claimed Indaver, which is progressing the incinerator, is also going to lease the whole site from Gent Fairhead, but not the area where the paper pulping plant will be.

Cllr Abbott said Gent Fairhead said at the meeting last week there is no economic justification for the paper pulping plant, and yet he said that was the part of the plant that held the whole plan together.

He said: “I have written to the county council saying this has got to stop, this constant planning creep, and if they are going to build something different to what they have got planning permission for they must submit a new and fresh planning application and not this constant process of drift.”

A spokesman for Indaver said: “The Waste from Energy facility has to be built first for there to be heat and steam for the other buildings to use and connect to. Indaver is preparing the site for all the other facilities which could be built by third parties.”

The spokesman added that Indaver has leased the entire site from Gent Fairhead, which retains an option to build on the site of the pulp mill.

Responding to the claim that it was said there is no economic justification for the paper pulping plant,  and if they are going to build something different, they must submit a fresh application, the spokesman added: “The anchor of the site is the CHP Plant, and the Pulp Mill was the intended Heat User in the 2010 planning permission for this facility.

“There have been dramatic changes in climate change policy since 2010 and the heat from this plant is an important and valuable resource, which can only be used once.

“The pandemic has accelerated the move away from white paper to information technology. The decision on what is built will be to the benefit of the plant, the environment and the local community.

“Compliance with planning approvals will be taken into account at every stage of the construction programme and any changes will be discussed with the relevant planning authority and agreement sought through the relevant planning approval process.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “As no breach of planning permission has yet taken place, this is a hypothetical situation which the planning authority cannot enforce, as nothing has been built yet. Essex County Council is seeking further legal clarification on this matter.

Indaver is preparing to launch the first tender process for a multi-million pound contract on the Rivenhall Energy from Waste (EfW) development.

The development itself is set to be built in the footprint of an existing quarry in Rivenhall, near Witham in Essex, and will be a 595,000 tonne per annum, 49.9MWe facility.

This will be the first phase of a four-and-a-half-year construction programme.

Gareth Jones, Indaver’s UK Business Development Manager said: ‘The project will contribute to the country’s renewable energy and net-zero carbon targets by producing 49.9MWe of predictable electricity from an indigenous fuel source.

“This is enough to power over 60,000 homes annually, over 50 per cent of which is renewable. The facility will also meet circular economy targets by diverting biodegradable waste from landfill and export, reducing harmful greenhouse gas emission.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter