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North Selby renewable energy centre abandons gasification plans over noise assessment

Plans for a 120,000-tonne gasification facility on the site of a disused mine in North Selby, Yorkshire, have been abandoned after it was found that the project breached noise assessment regulations.

Peel Environmental and UK Coal intended to build a £30m renewable energy centre (REC) on a disused mine which would have included a gasification facility, a 50,000-tonne capacity anaerobic digestion (AD) plant and a bio-renewables research facility.

Peel Environmental director Myles Kitcher said: “When the noise assessment for the REC was carried out, it was found that the gasification element of the scheme was causing difficulties in achieving technically acceptable levels for this site.

“Gasification facilities are not particularly noisy, but the topography of the site means that gasification for this location did cause an issue and, in the end, we decided it was not viable.”

In its place, Peel Environmental and UK Coal are proposing a 70,000-tonne AD facility and an in-vessel composting facility.

There has been speculation among opposition groups that the reason for the change and the failure of the noise assessment is that the site was due to be recovered into greenfield land.

Campaign group UK Without Incineration Network’s (UKWIN) co-ordinator Shlomo Dowen told MRW: “One way of interpreting the announcement is that while the general noise might be acceptable in a brownfield site, it is not acceptable in the open countryside. It is cryptic to say they are cancelling it because of noise – is this the noisiest gasifier in history? It only begins to make sense when we understand the planning context.

“UK Coal has teamed up with Peel and was going to put in a gasification application on the basis that it is a brownfield site. Local campaigners and UKWIN petitioned the local authority to issue an enforcement notice to signal that this is not a site that has lost its designation as Greenfield. There is an expectation that although it has not been restored, it will do.”

A City of York Council spokesman told MRW: “Having received legal advice, the council decided that it was not enforceable to seek full restoration of the land to agricultural use.”

Instead, the forthcoming enforcement notice will require that UK Coal demolishes and removes all the plant, buildings and machinery from the former North Selby mine .

A UK Coal spokesman told MRW: “We are aware of the council’s enforcement notice, but we are expecting to continue our dialogue with it about the site’s future, UK Coal is well equipped to offer new jobs and, for that reason, proposals should be explored to take full advantage of the site.”

The enforcement notice is expected to be served in April and a consultation on the new plans is expected to start in July.

Readers' comments (1)

  • This fits a familiar patter where UK Coal markets property as brownfield when in fact restoration (planning) conditions render them greenfield sites. Site status of the former Rufford Colliery in Nottinghamshire was an issue raised during the Sherwood Forest incinerator planning inquiry, where Veolia explained that they had initially thought the site was brownfield, but later recognised that even though the site is a former colliery, the site's status is greenfield due to planning conditions requiring restoration to heathland and woodland.

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