Plans revealed for £50m Basildon power plant fed by county’s waste

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A new power station planned for Basildon fuelled from waste could provide enough electricity to power up to 20,000 homes.

Clearaway Recycling Ltd wants to build two energy plants in one building, each capable of burning up to 75,000 tonnes of pre-prepared refuse derived fuel and other non-hazardous residual materials each year, derived from its existing recycling facility on the Burnt Mills Industrial Estate.

The waste is a refuse derived fuel in that it’s the residue left after recycling.

This fuel will be fired in a furnace, from which the flue gases will go into a steam boiler. The produced steam will drive a steam turbine with a generator, which produces electricity. There will be two stacks, one for each plant, which will clean gases produced by the process.

Each module in the Archers Fields Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) will create energy for the National Grid, also allowing charging on site of a potential future electric vehicle fleet and the supply of heat to local users.

The only thing left over at the end is ash and most of this can be used to make bricks for use in the construction industry.

The bricks will be made on site and heat from the power station will be used to dry the bricks.

A consultation has been launched ahead of a planning application to Essex County Council in June. A decision may come before the end of the year. If the application is successful, the energy facility would take up to two years to build.

The £50million facility is designed to take the existing waste that already comes to the Clearaway recycling facility – amounting to around 250,000 tonnes every year from private households and businesses in Essex.

It will process waste left over after recycling, significantly reducing the amount currently transported on local roads to North Essex for disposal in landfill.

Paul Whitehair, who founded Clearaway with brother Ian, said: “We have been recycling waste from local businesses at our site in Basildon for over ten years, but we were getting increasingly disappointed with how much still has to end up in landfill.

“Sending waste to landfill is bad for the environment so we started looking at other options for dealing with what’s left after recycling.”

The company has confirmed the process will not rely on the processing capacity of the Tovi Eco site nearby that also processes waste.

Clearaway and Wasteaway currently employs over 100 people, which includes a number of apprentices who are either still serving their apprenticeship or who now occupy full time positions.

The plans to expand the business group will create a further ten jobs plus additional jobs created during construction.

Materials would be transferred in articulated HGVs of approximately 20 to 25 tonnes capacity and would require approximately two to three deliveries per hour on a 24/7 basis.

Comments received in the three-week consultation will be used by Essex County Council’s development and regulation committee, which will make the decision.

The website for the proposals is archersfields-erf.co.uk and the consultation is open until June 12.

Newsletters have been sent to over 4,000 households and businesses around the site and can be requested by calling 0800 689 1095 or emailing [email protected].

Mr Whitehair said: “In these unprecedented times due to coronavirus, we are unable to host the public exhibition where we had planned to show our proposals to the community. Instead, we are ensuring that everyone can view our plans in a safe way by visiting our website or requesting our newsletter.

“You’ll be able to view our proposals, leave us some feedback and ask any questions you have.

“Keeping people safe during the crisis has to be the number one priority, which is why we’ve donated some of our stocks of PPE to the NHS as well as making a donation to do our bit to help in these difficult times.”

Cllr Tony Ball, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “Clearaway Recycling Ltd have committed to engage with the local community before any planning application is submitted.

“Whilst this is a private proposal, any concerns the local community may have about the burning of waste materials would need to be addressed by the applicant, especially given the site is adjacent to the clean air zone identified by Essex County Council and Basildon Council.

“This public engagement prior to the application being submitted is proposed to take place in mid-May allowing around three weeks to respond. The applicant expects to submit an application by the end of June 2020, but this is a loose timetable at this stage which could change.

“I would call on all interested parties to engage with this consultation to inform the applicant of any issues they have so that, if a planning application is submitted, they can be addressed.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter