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Over-capacity estimate extended as Defra sizes up Hatfield plant

Defra has said that the impact of the proposed energy from waste plant in Hertfordshire would result in greater over-capacity than it originally calculated.

The department said that its previous methodology indicated an over-capacity of 54% by 2020 if the plant in Hatfield was not operational and an over-capacity of 56% if it was.

However, using new data which includes the expectation that the level of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) in residual waste is lower than previously estimated, the figures have risen to 65% and 67% respectively.

In a report, Defra said: “This has a significant impact on the analysis because, for any given level of municipal waste to landfill, a smaller proportion is counted as relevant to the landfill target. Indeed, the new research implies that BMW to landfill in 2012 was already within the level required for the 2020 target.”

The new modelling process was commissioned from Nera Economic Consulting and reflects updated data since the previous forecasting report in October 2013.

Nera reviewed and refined previous models, and its findings have been signed off by Defra’s chief economist.

The Hatfield site, which was due to have been built by Veolia, already faces an uncertain future after the project was thrown out by Eric Pickles as being in contravention of Green Belt planning.

Veolia is currently preparing to take its appeal to the High Court.

The project had been awarded £115.3m in PFI credits in 2011 but, as other PFI waste schemes have experienced, such data has been used by Defra to justify credits being withdrawn.

The full Defra report.

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