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Frequently Asked Questions

Including detailed information about the proposed waste facility at Javelin Park.

  • Q:

    How did we decide on the preferred bidder and technology for the proposed energy from waste facility?

    A:

    In 2006, we agreed on the following five methods as proven, reliable and safe alternatives to landfill: - Modern Thermal Treatment with Combined Heat & Power (CHP). - Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) producing a biologically stabilised material that is sent to landfill. - Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) producing a fuel sent to a dedicated CHP. - Autoclave producing recyclates and an active fibre fuel that is sent to power dedicated CHP. - Advanced Thermal Treatment with syngas used to produce electricity and recovery of heat energy (CHP). We asked the private sector to use a combination of the five technologies above to put forward solutions for our rubbish in Gloucestershire, as we did not have a preferred technology.

  • Q:

    What is the timeline for the proposed energy from waste facility?

    A:

    Winter 2011 - Planning application submitted to waste planning authority, and environmental permit application submitted to Environment Agency Summer 2012 - Cabinet agreed contract awarded Summer 2013 - Environmental permit determined by Environment Agency and planning application determined by waste planning authority Summer 2014 - Construction Spring 2016 - Operation

  • Q:

    Why did we choose Javelin Park for the energy from waste facility?

    A:

    Javelin Park in Haresfield was identified in the Waste Local Plan (WLP), adopted in 2004, as a site suitable for strategic waste disposal. This classification, alongside an independent expert report on potential sites throughout the county, led to the county council purchasing the land in January 2009. This didn't prevent other sites being considered or a technology that required more than one site. By owning a site already, the council made Gloucestershire a much better option for the private sector when potential waste companies are deciding if our county could be a good investment for them. The council made this site available to waste companies, but the companies were free to suggest alternative sites if they wanted.

  • Q:

    What are local views of the waste facility at Javelin Park?

    A:

    Public consultation was carried out as part of the development of the Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy (JMWMS). This included workshops with various stakeholders and the Great Gloucestershire Debate. A community panel was also formed and assisted with the development of criteria used to evaluate potential residual waste treatment technologies.

  • Q:

    Who is involved with the energy from waste facility project?

    A:

    - Gloucestershire County Council - Urbaser Balfour Beatty - The Waste Planning Authority - The Environment Agency

  • Q:

    How did we fund the energy from waste project and what are its projected savings?

    A:

    Initially we applied to Defra for funding to support the project, and in 2008 we received £92 million of private finance initiative credits to contribute to the overall cost of the contract. The contract is estimated to be around £500 million. The building will be paid for over its life in the form of a service funded through local council tax. This means that we will pay a fee per ton of waste processed, which is the way we currently pay for landfilling waste In October 2010, Defra decided to review the PFI credits awarded to waste project within the UK as part of national spending cuts. However, Defra acknowledged that our county still needed an alternative to landfill.

  • Q:

    Why can't we recycle and compost all of our waste?

    A:

    According to the latest report on waste composition up to 70 per cent of household waste can be recycled or composted. Not all things can be recycled, particularly if they are made of more than one material which may make them difficult to separate. This means it takes so much energy to recycle that it outweighs the benefit. For example, a biscuit packet can be made of plastic film and paper, which cannot be easily separated.

  • Q:

    Why don't we continue to landfill the waste we cannot recycle or compost?

    A:

    Disposing of untreated waste to landfill is both environmentally damaging and very expensive. When untreated waste is buried underground, it produces methane. This greenhouse gas is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is one of the contributing factors of climate change. In addition, this year the county council has to pay landfill tax to the government at £56 for every tonne of waste that goes to landfill. This figure is increasing by £8 each year and will increase to £64 in April 2012. Councils have also been set limits by central government on how much biodegradable rubbish they can send to landfill. This limit decreases each year and the county council faces fines of £150 for every tonne over the quota set.

  • Q:

    What's the council's approach to waste management?

    A:

    The council's overall objective, in line with the waste management hierarchy, is to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover (the 4Rs).

  • Q:

    What alternatives to landfill have we considered for Gloucestershire?

    A:

    In 2006, the council started investigating 34 different ways to deal with our rubbish. This was narrowed down to 19, and then to five on the basis of our individual requirements as a county, plus whether the method was proven, reliable and safe. We also set up a focus group that highlighted what was most important to local people when considering a new alternative to landfill and helped to set the evaluation criteria for the technologies.

  • Q:

    What is the Waste Core Strategy (WCS)?

    A:

    The Waste Core Strategy replaces the Waste Local Plan in providing a planning framework for sustainable waste management in Gloucestershire in the period up to 2027. It deals with the management of all types of waste, not just household waste. An important role of the WCS is to identify the most suitable sites in Gloucestershire for waste management, based on land use planning and deliverability grounds. Until the WCS is formally adopted by the Waste Planning Authority part of the county council, the Waste Local Plan contains the relevant policies. But consideration must be given to any material issues within the WCS that may be important in relation to this project.

  • Q:

    Wouldn't you still have to landfill some waste after it was treated using energy from waste?

    A:

    There will always be a small amount of waste that will require landfill but this will be substantially reduced. This means environmental benefits as we landfill less, reducing methane production and our impact on climate change.

  • Q:

    Why can't we take our waste to an already established facility outside the county?

    A:

    We have explored joining up with other local authorities nearby in the same situation, but they have either been in different phases of the procurement process or there is no capacity available or appetite to import waste. As part of the competition bidders were free to submit a solution that processes waste outside the county.

  • Q:

    How much waste will the facility take and where will it come from?

    A:

    The district councils and the county council have all agreed a target to recycle and compost a minimum of 60 per cent of household waste by 2020. The County Council also has an aspiration to achieve 70% recycling by 2030. Even if we achieve this, we estimate that we will still be left with approximately 150,000 tonnes of waste to deal with by 2040. The preferred bidder has sized its facility to treat a maximum of 190,000 tonnes of Gloucestershire's waste. Any spare capacity after our household waste has been treated will be made up from Gloucestershire's local business waste.

  • Q:

    With recycling rates increasing, what happens if the facility doesn't have enough waste to be cost effective?

    A:

    The preferred bidder has already taken into account increased recycling rate in sizing its facility. We will also make sure that the contract with the preferred bidder is flexible enough to deal with a range of tonnages. We will continue to increase overall recycling and composting rates as much as we can.

  • Q:

    Are there potential health risks for residents living near a facility?

    A:

    Any treatment facility will need to be licensed by the Environment Agency which has the responsibility for regulating waste treatment plants.

  • Q:

    What about incinerators? Don't they pollute the atmosphere and contribute to ill health?

    A:

    An independent study, published by the government department Defra in 2004, found that Energy from Waste facilities are not a major contributor to air pollution.

  • Q:

    Will there be any harm to local vegetation or wildlife?

    A:

    There is no scientific evidence to suggest that there would be any harm.

  • Q:

    How are the emissions from the incinerator dealt with?

    A:

    The emissions from the incinerator are collected through a highly sophisticated cleaning system known as an air pollution control (APC) system. Any residues are contained and disposed of safely.

  • Q:

    Are there any hazardous residues and where do they get taken?

    A:

    The APC residues must be disposed of in a suitably licensed hazardous waste treatment facility. This is because the particles are mixed with lime to bind them together. It's this lime that causes the residue to have a very high alkaline content and therefore requires specialised disposal. In Gloucestershire's case the current proposal is to be a hazardous landfill site outside of the county.

  • Q:

    So what exactly will I see coming out of the stack?

    A:

    What you will see occasionally is steam, which is usually only visible during humid and cold weather.

  • Q:

    Are there examples of incinerators near local housing in the UK and abroad?

    A:

    There are many, some of which have been developed by our bidders. Most major European cities have energy from waste facilities as integral parts of their infrastructure located within areas of dense population.

  • Q:

    Could the facility catch fire or be vulnerable to explosions or terrorist attacks?

    A:

    Fire safety will be an integral part of the facility's operation. There will be an emergency plan to cater for all types of emergency and crisis situations. As the plant does not process a volatile material it is less of a risk than say a nuclear power station or an oil refinery.

  • Q:

    Will a waste facility generate extra smell?

    A:

    Any facility will use the latest technology to prevent any odours. Any buildings where waste is taken to will use negative air pressure to prevent smells being released into the atmosphere. This will be effective, even when the doors of the facility are open.

  • Q:

    Will a waste facility attract vermin?

    A:

    Effective vermin control will be in place. Facilities and storage of waste will be managed to prevent problems with vermin.

  • Q:

    Will traffic levels near the plant increase significantly?

    A:

    As part of the planning process, a detailed traffic assessment has been carried out. Any new facilities would not be operational until 2015 and any necessary road improvement work will be carried out well before then to make sure there is enough capacity on the road network. During peak periods of construction there may be extra vehicles, but the number of vehicles once the facility is operational will be less than if the site was developed as a warehouse (for which it already has planning permission).

  • Q:

    What will the facility look like?

    A:

    Modern waste facilities are designed to take account of the local environment and any national and local planning guidance. As part of the planning process, the visual impact of the facility will be considered. This aims to make sure the building is appropriate to its surroundings and the current proposed design has been welcomed by the Design Council.

  • Q:

    What steps will need to be taken before the facility gets built?

    A:

    Gloucestershire County Council is the waste planning authority and it is their responsibility to produce the Waste Core Strategy and to deal with planning applications for waste. The county council's planning responsibilities are independent of the county council's waste management team, which manages the project. Elected members from the Planning Committee considered and refused the application on 21st March 2013. Urbaser Balfour Beatty are now appealing this decision.

  • Q:

    How many jobs will a waste facility create?

    A:

    The development of a new waste facility will create about 300 jobs during construction and around 40 jobs when operational. The preferred bidder has pledged that eight per cent of the construction workforce will be made up of apprentices and that there will a 100 per cent interview guarantee for Gloucestershire residents who meet the job criteria.

  • Q:

    How will the facility be paid for?

    A:

    Disposing of residual waste is one of the core responsibilities of the council and we having being doing this for decades. Therefore, this is not new money and we are just finding a new and better way of delivering the service. The building will be paid for over its life in the form of a service funded through local council tax. This means that we will pay a fee per ton of waste processed, which is the way we currently pay for landfilling waste. When the government withdrew Gloucestershire's public funding initiative credits as part of the national spending cuts in 2010, we looked hard at whether it made sense to continue the project. A review was carried out and confirmed that it offered significant savings of around £150 million when compared to landfill because of rising landfill tax.

  • Q:

    Isn't 25 years too long to be tied into a commercial contract with a waste company?

    A:

    In part the length of the contract is related to the life of the assets. A commercial contract is a lot like a mortgage for your home, if you choose to buy your house over a shorter period, your payments will be a lot higher than if you choose to pay your mortgage off over a longer period of time. Therefore we need to consider and balance the contract length against what the county council can afford annually. Writing off assets half way through their life is expensive. We have produced waste for hundreds if not thousands of years so in the scheme of things, twenty five years is perhaps not as long as it seems.

  • Q:

    If so much money is being invested in this project, will it be at the detriment of recycling facilities?

    A:

    Gloucestershire County Council's aspiration is to achieve 70 per cent recycling by 2030. We are still committed to reaching our joint target with the district councils of recycling and composting a minimum of 60 per cent of waste by 2020. This has been agreed by all of the districts councils, who have signed up to a long-term plan to deal with Gloucestershire's waste called the Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy.