Frequently Asked Questions
How did we decide on the preferred bidder and technology for the proposed energy from waste facility?
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.
We also asked local people and organisations for their views on dealing with rubbish.
In 2009, we received ten proposals from waste companies and after evaluating these proposals, we invited four companies to submit detailed proposals. Following further detailed evaluation of the final four companies, we shortlisted two bidders to develop their proposals.
In December 2011 Cabinet appointed Urbaser Balfour Beatty as preferred bidder to provide Gloucestershire with an energy from waste facility at Javelin Park.
Why did we choose Javelin Park for the energy from waste facility?
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.
What are local views of the waste facility at Javelin Park?
Joint strategy consultation
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.
The county council also invited members (as well as some parish councillors from around Javelin Park) on trips to visit an Energy from Waste facility as well as a mechanical biological treatment facility to understand the technologies better.
Issues and priorities consultation
By law we have to set out our evaluation framework to evaluate the bids before starting the procurement. We undertook a consultation in summer 2008 to understand stakeholder priorities when developing the evaluation framework. This included a questionnaire and over 20 focus groups who discussed the priorities in greater detail. The results of the consultation influenced the evaluation framework that has been used for the procurement. The evaluation framework includes legal, financial and technical issues including flexibility (with regards to both climate change and changing waste tonnages) and other environmental issues such as health, emissions and transport issues.
Strategic reappraisal stakeholder engagement
In 2010, Defra withdrew the PFI funding credits previously awarded to the project due to national spending cuts. The county council halted the project in order to consider the best way forward. As part of the reappraisal, local people, groups and organisations were asked for their views, which helped to ensure the county council had considered all of the issues.
Planning and permitting
The preferred bidders facility will need to be granted planning permission before any facility can be built. It will also require an environmental permit before it can operate.
Public consultation is an important part of both of these processes and means that local people can have their say on the issues that are important to them. The consultations were carried out by the Waste Planning Authority on the planning application and the Environment Agency on the environmental permit. In 2010, the county council invited local residents and businesses around Javelin Park to become part of a community forum. The aim of the forum was to provide people living in or working near Javelin Park an opportunity to talk directly with the county council about the proposed new facility in their area.
Who is involved with the energy from waste facility project?
Gloucestershire County Council
Gloucestershire County Council is responsible for dealing with the household rubbish collected by district councils in Gloucestershire and at household recycling centres.
Gloucestershire County Council has signed a contract with UBB after they were successful during the procurement project to find a private waste company to design build and develop a waste treatment facility the county to use over the next 25 years.
UBB will be responsible for the treatment of Gloucestershire's household waste for 25 years. At the end of the 25 years the facility will be owned by the county council.
Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB)
Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) is the consortium of Urbaser and Balfour Beatty, selected through a competitive procurement process, to develop an Energy from Waste (EfW) facility in the county. It has proposed an energy from waste facility at Javelin Park in Haresfield.
For more information, visit www.ubbgloucestershire.co.uk
The Waste Planning Authority
The Waste Planning Authority is a section of the county council separate from the waste management unit leading the residual waste contract. It is responsible for ensuring the facility is built in accordance with the planning conditions. It is also responsible for the development of the Waste Core Strategy, which sets out the planning framework for all waste management sites in Gloucestershire.
The Environment Agency
The Environment Agency is a public body responsible to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and a Welsh Government Sponsored Body responsible to the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development. Its principal aims are to protect and improve the environment, and to promote sustainable development. It plays a central role in delivering the environmental priorities of central government and the Welsh Government through its functions and roles. UBB has been granted an environmental permit from the Environment Agency to operate the facility.
For more information, visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk/javelinpark
How did we fund the energy from waste project and what are its projected savings?
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 payment, funded through local 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.
The county council decided to carry out a strategic reappraisal to find the best way forward. This included asking stakeholders for their views. The reappraisal concluded that even without the PFI credits, the project would provide at least £100 million of savings when compared with continuing to landfill.
Why can't we recycle and compost all of our waste?
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.
Why don't we continue to landfill the waste we cannot recycle or compost?
Disposing of untreated waste to landfill is both environmentally damaging and very expensive. When untreated waste is buried underground, it decomposes and 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, the county council has to pay landfill tax to the government at £86.10 for every tonne of waste that goes to landfill. This figure is increased by the RPI each year. 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.
What's the council's approach to waste management?
The council's overall objective, in line with the waste management hierarchy, is to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover (the 4Rs).
'Recycling' often gets the most attention but we also recognise that the 'reduce' also needs to be addressed and we welcome initiatives such as 'lightweighting', whereby the weight of containers is reduced, and other initiatives to reduce packaging. The council notes, in terms of recycling, that the top five European countries have an average of 60 per cent recycling but recover energy from 37 per cent of their waste through thermal treatment. Like them we accept that there is a percentage of waste (eventually around 30 per cent) that cannot be dealt with through 'reduction, reuse and recycling' and that the most environmentally and financially responsible way of dealing with this is to 'recover' any energy we can with landfill only being used as a last resort.
Gloucestershire has increased its recycling rate from 24 per cent in 2004/5 to 51.80 per cent for 2016/17. This represents a tremendous achievement by the people of Gloucestershire and the staff and contractors responsible for collection services and household recycling centres. The current recycling target is 60 per cent by 2020. Gloucestershire County Council's aspiration is to achieve 70 per cent recycling by 2030.
What alternatives to landfill have we considered for Gloucestershire?
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.
These five were:
- 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 plant.
- Advanced Thermal Treatment with syngas used to produce electricity and recovery of heat energy (CHP).
What is the Waste Core Strategy (WCS)?
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.
Read about the Waste Core Strategy on the County Council website.
Wouldn't you still have to landfill some waste after it was treated using energy from waste?
There will always be a small amount of waste that will require landfill but this will be substantially reduced. This means there will be environmental benefits as we landfill less, reducing methane production and our impact on climate change.
Why can't we take our waste to an already established facility outside the county?
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.
How much waste will the facility take and where will it come from?
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.
With recycling rates increasing, what happens if the facility doesn't have enough waste to be cost effective?
The preferred bidder has already taken into account increased recycling rate in sizing its facility. We have also made sure that the contract 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.
Are there potential health risks for residents living near a facility?
The treatment facility have been permitted by the Environment Agency which has the responsibility for regulating waste treatment plants.
The Environment Agency has very strict rules for such facilities and will not allow anything that is unsafe. The Environment Agency further information available on its website
What about incinerators; don't they pollute the atmosphere and contribute to ill health?
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.
This view is shared by the Health Protection Agency (now Public Health England) in its report The Impacts of Health of Emissions to Air from Municipal Waste Incinerators (September 2009).
Will there be any harm to local vegetation or wildlife?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that there would be any harm.
How are the emissions from the incinerator dealt with?
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.
Are there any hazardous residues and where do they get taken?
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.
So what exactly will I see coming out of the stack?
What you will see occasionally is steam, which is usually only visible during humid and cold weather.
Are there examples of incinerators near local housing in the UK and abroad?
There are many operational examples in the UK and Europe. Most major European cities have energy from waste facilities as integral parts of their infrastructure located within areas of dense population.
Could the facility catch fire or be vulnerable to explosions or terrorist attacks?
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.
Will a waste facility generate extra smell?
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.
Will a waste facility attract vermin?
Effective vermin control will be in place. Facilities and storage of waste will be managed to prevent problems with vermin.
Will traffic levels near the plant increase significantly?
As part of the planning process, a detailed traffic assessment has been carried out. The new facility will not be operational until 2019 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).
What will the facility look like?
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 has been 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.
Images for the proposed design can be found at www.ubbgloucestershire.co.uk
How many jobs will the waste facility create?
The development of the new waste facility will create about 300 jobs during construction and around 40 jobs when operational. UBB 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.
How will the facility be paid for?
Disposing of residual waste is one of the core responsibilities of the council and we have been 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 at least £100 million when compared to landfill because of rising landfill tax.
Isn't 25 years too long to be tied into a commercial contract with a waste company?
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.
If so much money is being invested in this project, will it be at the detriment of recycling facilities?
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.