One of the key figures in London’s Sustainable Industries Park is urging local authorities to think strategically about the planning of waste facilities rather than approving projects on an ad hoc basis.
Mark Bradbury was deputy director of development at the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation where he championed the new project in Dagenham and secured £10.6m of investment for the project from the Greater London Authority which replaced the corporation.
“I think local authorities should be thinking more strategically,” Bradbury told MRW, “The local community is faced with large planning applications for large incinerators, and the rest of the infrastructure is dotted around, appearing rather randomly in the planning process. Whereas, if they move from a waste management plan to an economic development plan, they are more likely to look at a more co-ordinated strategic approach.”
The Dagenham park is the site of Closed Loop Recycling, which is a plastic bottle reprocessor. TEG’s in-vessel composting and anaerobic digestion plant will join them, and is due for completion in end of 2013. Chinook Urban Mining has also started the construction of a gasification plant on the site.
The facilities will take a mixture of household and commercial waste from the four local boroughs which make up the East London Waste Authority: Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Newham and Redbridge.
Bradbury, now a consultant for Vertical Thinking, said: “With a mix of smaller technologies together, you can respond more readily to changes in the pattern of waste as we go up the waste hierarchy. A more resilient collection of industries provides less risk to the public sector investment.”
He said co-location meant businesses can share resources, with advantages to business profit margins.
“We are starting to see with TEG following Closed Loop onto the Dagenham Park, discussions are around the trade in surplus heat from the AD process, replacing the need for Closed Loop to generate heat conventionally to clean and sterilised their food-grade product.”
Chris Dow, chief executive of Closed Loop Recycling, said the deal with TEG to see the exchange of waste products from both businesses was “a big win for both businesses”. He added: “It is important that waste is thought of strategically but I am not sure we can yet conclude that they [facilities] must all be congregated geographically.”
Michael Fishwick, the chief executive of TEG, told MRW that he had mixed feelings about whether all local authorities should plan waste sites.
“On a cautious note we have to be careful that we avoid a process that can stifle competition and squeeze out the SMEs. The ‘grand plan’ approach of authorities tends to favour the major waste management players and infrastructure developers, and can prevent Authorities from procuring the best underlying solution. In addition, by linking strategic sites to procurement, Authorities tend to add yet another layer of complication, delay and cost to procurement processes.
“However, I think in regions such as the London area strategic thinking and development of this kind is very important, as site location in urban environments is a real challenge. The Dagenham type model is a good one - the local authorities worked together, identified a suitable site, laid the platform for its development and then invited the industry to come in and develop it, but on an ‘arms-length’ commercial basis.”
Wayne Hubbard, chief operating officer at London Waste and Recycling Board (LWaRB) – which invested £4.4m in TEG to help finance the Dagenham plant - said: “The London Plan explicitly supports developments that include complementary waste facilities on a single site. Having industrial parks or single sites, that have been identified by local authorities as suitable for waste development, does not remove the need for planning applications to be dealt with on a case by case basis, but it can help with the planning process by ensuring that certain waste and other industrial developments are supported in principle.”