Wiltshire Publications

Statement from NREL as town awaits incinerator decision

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Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd (“NREL”), who have submitted plans for a waste facility in Westbury, has issued a statement.

Westbury was joined by local towns and parishes in objecting to the proposal, which has a target date of a decision by Wiltshire Council of 30th November. At the end of public consultation in September, the council was inundated with over 1,400 letters of representation about the incinerator and a backlog was created in getting the comments online.

A NRE spokesperson has now released the following statement, “A Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd (“NREL”) proposal for an energy from waste facility was granted planning permission in 2019. However, NREL is now seeking planning permission to alter the scheme to allow it to change the technology from gasification to moving grate combustion – a technology which has been successfully and safely deployed across the UK and Europe for many years.

“It is easy for misleading statements to be made by those who oppose facilities such as that proposed by Northacre Renewable Energy, regarding the performance of modern combustion technology. There have been claims that it is outdated, with language and references to “1960s” technology.

“The moving grate combustion system that we intend to use at Northacre is based on process technology that has been utilised for decades. However, as with any technology solution, the approach to the application of technology and project specific configuration such as design, efficiencies, performance and monitoring, have continued to be developed and refined.

“For example, it is well known that the early applications of this combustion technology (the old-style incinerator people may be thinking of) were not configured to produce electricity and did not have pollution mitigation equipment such as flue gas cleaning, which has been a continuing development and part of any energy from waste facility since the 1980s.

“Not only has the technology developed, but the solutions and approach to monitoring emissions have become more sophisticated, with continuous monitoring now part of any new energy from waste facility. These advances have been deployed in parallel with advances in regulation and associated regulatory powers. The EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive (as adopted into UK legislation) reinforces the need for all aspects of the design and operation to utilise “Best Available Techniques”. These have most recently been completely reviewed and updated in December 2019 and it is these standards that this plant has been designed to, and that the Environment Agency (“EA”) will be considering when writing the Permit for the facility.

“The EA has responded positively to our request to prioritise the appointment of an officer to assess the content of our Permit application. The outcome of this initial assessment of our Permit application will mean that the application is “duly made”. After this we expect the EA to make our application available publicly and consult openly on it, which we welcome.

“Despite already having planning permission in place for an energy from waste facility, we believe that it is our responsibility to develop the best possible project. If granted permission for the change in technology, we would have an opportunity to build a state-of-the-art facility, which addresses the pressing need for a sustainable long-term solution to non-recyclable waste in Wiltshire.

“For more information on the NREL scheme, please visit our website: https://northacre-energy.co.uk/

“A link and guidance on how to view our virtual Community Engagement event, which took place in July 2020, is available on our contact page.”

5 Responses to Statement from NREL as town awaits incinerator decision

  1. Marie Hillcoat

    November 21, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    It is unfortunate that NREL chose to use this phrase in writing about objections from Wiltshire residents….“It is easy for misleading statements to be made by those who oppose facilities such as that proposed by Northacre Renewable Energy…”
    Why would statements need to be misleading?

    Let’s trust and read the objections.

    NREL has given us the figure of 54,000 homes being powered by the incinerator.
    In amongst the 2000 + objections is a letter that disproves this figure.A Power System Design Engineer has shown that the plant would power between 12,800 – and 15,000 homes.
    What are the reasons for NREL presenting high figures in such an application?

    The scrutiny and level of opposition that the planning application is receiving from the local population and Wiltshire residents will not be dismissed.

  2. Nadia Evans

    November 24, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    The Moving grate combustion system was developed in the early 1900s. Adding a turbine doesn’t change the technology.
    The spokesperson for NREL is accusing objectors to their plan of misleading.
    Who are these misleading objectors?
    Is it the Wiltshire Council Climate Team finding that NREL underestimated the amount of CO2 release by 278%?
    Is it Redmore Environmental Ltd Report produced on behalf of Arla Foods regarding odour risk Assesment which concluded that the application should be refused?
    Is it the Power System Design engineer with 40 years of professional experience assessing the claim by NREL of the ability to supply 54 000 households with the electricity generated from the incinerator being actually 12 800 – 15 000 households?
    Or is it Dr. A. Murrison MP stating:
    “Incineration is recognised as more polluting than gasification, producing more greenhouse gases and particles potentially harmful to health. The incineration residue is a toxic leachable burden on landfill. Northacre is unable to deny that its application to replace gasification with incineration would be a retrograde step in respect of key parameter – the threat to health, nuisance to the public and damage to the environment.”
    The 15 Town and Parish Councils together with over 2 000 resident would have informed themselves about the NREL plan.
    The leadership of NREL might find informative and helpful the Online Meeting for MPs, Constituents and Lords on 8 December from 4pm chaired by Dr A. Murrison and hosted by UKWIN, on the topic of Waste management.

  3. Stephen Eades

    November 24, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    Whilst NREL is correct is saying that the Regulations governing emissions from the chimney have been updated (latest Regs. Dec. 2019), it is also true that these updated Regulations do not recommend the fitting of a type of filter to an incinerator of NREL’s type which will remove the very tiny ultrafine dust particles.

    These ultrafine particles, measuring 0.1 microns and smaller in diameter (invisible to the naked eye) will be emitted from the chimney and will be toxically contaminated. Those living in Studland Park, Westbury, which is close to the same elevation as the top of the chimney, will likely be breathing in these particles whenever the wind blows both in their direction and local meteorological conditions have also prevented the emission from rising in the air and being dispersed. These toxic ultrafine particles, if breathed in, enter directly into the bloodstream (ref. Public Health England, DEFRA and the Local Government Association) and are a proven cause of ill health.

    NREL state that this incinerator will solve the disposal problem of non-recyclable waste which arises in Wiltshire. Around 80,000 tonnes per annum of Wiltshire non-recyclable household waste is currently being incinerated, presumably on long-term commercial contracts which will not readily allow it to be burnt in Wiltshire – although NREL’s Environmental Statement is not clear about this. The proposed incinerator will burn around 240,000 tonnes per annum. However, what is the source and precise nature of this waste? Does it all arise within the county and, if so, from where exactly? Will some of the waste be imported into the county and, if so, what is the imported percentage figure? Also, what type of waste (plastic, paper, cardboard and so forth) will be imported and in what amounts? Once again, NREL’s Environmental Statement is not clear about any of this.

    Therefore one asks, is this genuinely an incinerator to handle Wiltshire’s waste or is it chiefly a regional incinerator which will import waste into Wiltshire and Westbury?

    NREL does not appear to have answered these questions in the Environmental Statement which accompanies their planning application. If they have answered these questions, including the question of what type of filters they will fit to the chimney, perhaps they could supply the answers to the Wiltshire public and Wiltshire Council in a very simple, easily understandable form.

  4. David Jenkins

    November 25, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    Time to wake up NREL you have failed miserably to acknowledge fully or even be that concerned mover the thousands of people, Parish and Town councils who for sound and material reasons have raised objections to your application. Arla, your neighbours, are very concerned and have recommended a refusal.
    With the governments green revolution and Wiltshire Council seeking to be carbon neutral NREL’s application should be dumped. Incineration will soon become the history of energy generation. The climate change is now being taken seriously at long last. The days of having to burn waste to generate power are limited.
    Reuse and recycle and a comprehensive save waste policy are the ways to help preserve the climate. I fail to understand why NREL haven’t got the idea yet of alternative means of energy generation. It is the way to the future for us now and the generations to come.
    NREL repeatedly going on about a previous application is boring and they have to start to realise that their application could be refused. The Environmental Agency have advised me that they are going to give a significant amount of time to process the permit application as they are fully aware of the high public profile. There is no room for error, if their is error then what would be the consequences and who takes the responsibility? Your consultation with the public was a disappointment.

  5. Dan Gmaj

    November 26, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    A response to NRE Ltd from:

    WGAG / No Westbury Incinerator Group

    Currently understood to be a ‘non-trading company’ jointly owned by Hills Group and a Bioenergy Infrastructure Group, NREL issued a statement last week stating that:
    ‘It is easy for people opposing the Westbury incinerator to make misleading statements’

    The allegation was originally made in a Northacre Renewable Energy letter sent to lobby key local stakeholders and councillors ahead of an imminent Strategic planning committee meeting to decide the fate of the project. The statement dated 16 November 2020 has already been published by Westbury – White Horse News on the 18th of November and also by The Wiltshire Times a day later on the 19th. Here is the considered WGAG / No Westbury Incinerator Group response. #WestburyGAG #CommunityPower <3

    NREL’s Project Director writes in the statement “It is easy for misleading statements to be made by those who oppose facilities such as that proposed by Northacre Renewable Energy, regarding the performance of modern combustion technology.”
    To that, we say that local people who have spent years opposing NREL’s multiple planning applications for different types of incineration plant are perfectly capable of understanding and assessing the technology. The performance of modern combustion technology is inefficient compared with modern gas fired and nuclear power stations, particularly as NREL offer no prospect of using the heat from the combustion process or of capturing carbon emissions.
    Up to 40% of the waste fed into the incinerator will come out as ash, some of which is classed as hazardous and has to be transported to specialised landfill.
    NREL’s Project Director, Alex Young, makes many ‘misleading statements’ himself. He writes that moving grate combustion technology has been ‘successfully and safely deployed across the UK and Europe for many years’
    On the contrary, there have been multiple breaches of environmental permits associated with incineration and ‘success’ is subjective. The safety of an incinerator is only as good as its operators.
    Will the incinerator be ‘successfully deployed’ if waste has to be driven into Westbury by HGV from across Europe to make it economically viable over the next quarter of a century?
    Is it a success if the plant contributes millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide to climate change?
    Is it a success if Westbury’s air quality continues to breach the legal limit because of emissions from the incinerator and HGVs full of waste passing through its centre?
    Mr Young claims that emissions monitoring has ‘become more sophisticated’.
    However, the Environment Agency has confirmed that environmental permitting does not require filtering of the smallest particulates from the gases which would be breathed by the people of Westbury.
    It is now known by all Directors of Public Health that these particulates are amongst the most damaging to health.
    In his letter to Wiltshire Councillors Mr Young says that technical consultees have raised no
    objections to the change from gasification to moving grate technology.
    He does not say that:
    Wiltshire Council commissioned a report from Exeter University’s Centre for Energy and
    Environment which concluded that NREL’s carbon assessment made incorrect assumptions,
    incorrectly comparing the incinerator with landfill and underestimating the plant’s carbon
    emissions by 278%.
    It also concluded that NREL have not addressed ways in which carbon dioxide could be reduced e.g. by carbon capture and using heat locally.
    A moving grate incinerator not only burns fossil fuel-based waste such as plastic, but the process requires additional fuel oil, all contributing to climate change and poor air quality.
    NREL’s modelling of the impact of the incinerator on air quality and wildlife habitats is based on old data from RAF Lyneham (25 miles from Westbury) which has a completely different topography. Furthermore, there has been no independent technical report on air quality modelling.
    Out of those consulted on the planning application, Wiltshire Council’s air quality and ecology teams and Wessex Water have not yet produced any public response.
    Wiltshire Council’s drainage engineer has objected to the application on the grounds that the climate change impact on water courses has not been correctly assessed by NREL.
    NREL’s application is opposed by Westbury Town Council and more than 15 other town and
    parish councils. NREL have not engaged with or addressed the concerns of these stakeholders.
    since July although over 2000 objections have been received by Wiltshire Council’s planning
    department. NREL, a company jointly owned by the Hills and Bioenergy Infrastructure Groups, has only held one public consultation meeting for members of the public which was online.
    Mr Young’s says the ‘pressing need for a sustainable long-term solution to non-recyclable waste in Wiltshire’ would be met by an incinerator.
    On the contrary, because of its £200 million cost the incinerator would create a 25-year financial barrier to many and much more sustainable options.
    He omits to say that much of the waste going into the incinerator could be recycled, composted and reused, instead of being burnt, particularly commercial waste which will make up around 75% of the feedstock.
    The incinerator would kick the can down the road instead of finding a more sustainable solution higher up the waste hierarchy as part of the Government’s Green Recovery and Wiltshire Council’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2030.
    NREL’s business model is questionable in the face of a potential incineration tax and the high cost of its electricity compared with nuclear, solar and wind.
    The supply chains for 243,000 tonnes of waste per annum to feed its process are subject to the uncertainties of Brexit, post-Covid recession and competition with other incinerators which are already operating in the West Country.
    Westbury’s MP, Dr. Andrew Murrison opposes NRELs application. In his objection to the
    planning application he writes, “Northacre is unable to deny that its application to replace
    gasification with incineration would be a retrograde step in respect of key parameters – the
    threat to health, nuisance to the public and damage to the environment.” Dr. Murrison will be chairing an online debate for MPs and their constituents on incineration on 8th December. Those who wish to attend can sign up at: https://ukwin.org.uk/policy/

    WGAG / No Westbury Incinerator 25/11/2020