The Governments energy National Policy Statements on renewable energy will have little relevance to the waste industry, according to industry experts.
Last week (9 November), Energy Secretary Ed Miliband announced plans to overhaul our power structure. It involved speeding up the planning process in order to build plants, such as energy-from waste facilities that produce over 50MW, more quickly. The Government states that the recovery of energy from the combustion of waste, where in accordance with the waste hierarchy, will play an increasingly important role in meeting the UKs energy needs.
Milibands announcement comes after a shake up in planning laws that occurred last month. The Government now has powers to strip local authorities with the right of veto over key energy projects. Decisions will instead be taken by the new independent Infrastructure Planning Commission. National Policy Statements set out the criteria against which the IPC will judge applications for development consent. EfW plants fall under the umbrella of National Policy Statements on renewable energy.
International Solid Waste Association vice president Jeff Cooper told MRW: The draft national policy statements have little relevance for the waste and recycling sectors and even for our links with the renewable energy sector because the limit for establishment of a national significant facility have been set at over 50MW. There are few facilities which would come over that limit. This would effect an energy recovery facility burning more than 300,000 tonnes per annum of waste.
In the past decade only the Belvedere [EfW plant) has been larger than that and the Ineos Chlor site in north west England using solid refuse fuel. Currently, there are no other facilities planned to exceed that capacity.
Veolia Environmental Services deputy chief executive Paul Levett added: Only a tiny proportion of EfW plants would exceed the 50MW threshold and as such the new policy does not unblock the planning obstacles faced by the new waste treatment facilities that are required to accommodate the waste which is being diverted from landfill sites.