Planning consent powers DS Smith in Kent

Work on a new energy efficient power plant for a major Kent company can now get under way following a planning decision by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, permission has been given to DS Smith to construct a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plant to power its recycled paper mill.

The project comprises of a gas turbine (52-57 MW), Waste Heat Recovery Boilers (105MW steam) and Steam Turbine (16MW) and will be built at the DS Smith’s Kemsley Paper Mill in Sittingbourne.

The application for the Development Consent Order (DCO) was led by DHA, the Maidstone-based planning, transport, design and environmental consultancy.

David Harvey, Director at DHA, said: “The DCO process is designed to speed up applications for major investments in infrastructure or utilities that are vital to the growth of the UK economy. The process is challenging with very detailed consultation on the proposals followed by an extensive and rigorous examination by a Planning Inspector.

“We are delighted that all the hard work has paid off and work on DS Smith’s CHP plant can now get under way and sustain these important jobs in Kent.”

The DCO was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of DS Smith Paper in April 2018 and accepted later that month for examination. Local people, local authorities and other statutory bodies and interested parties were able to participate in the six-month examination period and the project was granted consent on 8 July 2019. It is the 71st Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project consented since the introduction of the Planning Act in 2008.

The new power plant will be built by Germany energy supplier E.ON and when operational will replace an existing CHP plant, which currently supplies electricity and steam to the mill.

The new plant is made up from a gas turbine, waste heat recovery boilers and a steam turbine, and will be built on the south eastern section of the paper mill, off Swale Way.

Colin McIntyre, CEO for DS Smith Paper and Recycling Divisions, said: “We are delighted that the government has given its planning consent that allows work to start on a new Combined Heat and Power Plant at our recycled paper mill in Kent.

“Partnering with E.ON to develop a state-of-the-art solution to meet our long-term energy requirements is a vital element to achieve this ambition and we expect to see a 36,000 tonnes per year carbon reduction from improved efficiency at the new facility.

“We are looking forward to construction beginning later this year as we are delighted with the benefits the new plant will bring to our business, as well as the opportunity this gives us to continue our strategic partnership with E.ON.”

Commenting on the DCO process, the Planning Inspectorate’s Chief Executive, Sarah Richards said: “The Planning Inspectorate has again demonstrated its ability to examine nationally significant infrastructure projects within timescales laid down in the Planning Act 2008.

“This provides developers and investors with the confidence to build and improve the infrastructure this country needs to secure future economic growth.”

Burges Salmon LLP provided legal representation for the application. DHA undertook planning consultancy, project co-ordination and EIA co-ordination, with technical environmental input from the RPS Group.