Plans in for Dorset energy recovery facility

Plans to increase recycling and recover valuable energy from leftover rubbish have been submitted to Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole (BCP) Council.

The proposal from recycling and renewable energy specialists Eco Sustainable Solutions is intended to provide a vital part of Dorset’s green infrastructure.

The 25-year-old company wants to add a hi-tech energy recovery facility (ERF) to its Eco Park site at Parley near Bournemouth Airport.

If approved, it would enable Eco to process an extra 60,000 tonnes of local waste a year on top of the 250,000+ tonnes it currently handles.

The plans also include improvements to the existing site layout and incorporate an already permitted anaerobic digestion facility.

The proposed ERF replaces a bioenergy facility that Eco already has planning permission for, increasing the green energy generated from local waste.

Up to a fifth of the extra waste processed at the new ‘Chapel Gate ERF’ would be recycled with the rest used to generate green energy for local homes and businesses.

Currently, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of leftover rubbish created by BCP and Dorset homes and businesses is taken by road out of the county, with significant amounts ending up in landfill, emitting methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Diverting this waste from landfill via Eco’s proposed ERF will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 12,850 tonnes of CO2 per year and HGV ‘waste miles’ by more than 17,000 miles per month.

The plans include a visitor and education centre designed to support local council efforts to encourage people to do more to help reduce waste and tackle the climate emergency.

Justin Dampney, Eco’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Our plans are specifically designed to help solve the acute waste challenge facing Dorset, supporting local authority strategies to reduce the amount of waste produced, champion even more recycling and recover the energy from waste leftover after recycling.

“We’re proposing a significant investment in green infrastructure that will play an important role in addressing the climate emergency declared by both Dorset and BCP Councils and contribute towards the national goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions.”

The scheme is expected to create ten permanent full-time jobs while offering construction and maintenance opportunities for local contractors.

An ERF recovers the ‘embedded energy’ from combustible waste such as contaminated paper, card, plastics and food scraps that cannot be recycled.

Initially, this leftover rubbish is thoroughly sorted to extract anything that can be processed into new products. The rest is combusted to produce steam that drives a turbine to create low-carbon electricity. Heat generated from the facility could also be delivered to nearby residents and business through establishing a local district heating network.

The planning application follows a public consultation process which, because of Covid restrictions, was moved online during autumn 2020.

It involved filmed commentaries, walk-throughs of exhibition materials, video meetings between project team members and local stakeholder representatives, and the opportunity to provide feedback via an online questionnaire.

Justin added: “We have a strong track record of working with local authorities, the local community and businesses to solve environmental challenges through clean, hi-tech and appropriately-sized solutions.

“The ERF continues that activity. It will provide less than half of the capacity that the local authority waste plan says we could build at our Parley site. That’s because we strongly believe everyone in society can do much more to reduce waste and increase recycling rates.

“We’re proposing a visitor centre and education programme to support our local councils’ efforts to encourage the kind of behavioural change that will safeguard all our futures.

“Having submitted our planning application, we look forward to working with the BCP planning authority as they begin their statutory consultation over the coming weeks. We continue to encourage all stakeholders to take a look at the plans and feedback their views and comments.”

The ERF would join Eco’s existing clean energy portfolio which consists of a combined heat and power plant powering the Eco Park, a 1.6MW anaerobic digestion facility at Piddlehinton near Dorchester and a 77MW solar energy development in Parley.