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Swindon to become first authority to own and manage viable landfill alternative

A local authority is set to save £26m over the next 10 years by becoming the first council in the country to own and manage its own advanced thermal treatment plant for its residual waste.

Swindon Borough Council plans to stop using landfill as a solution for its residual waste and instead heat the non-recyclable waste to produce a synthetic gas which in turn may be used for electricity to power homes in the borough.

The cost of this new technology is estimated to be £54m over the next 10 years, which represents a massive saving compared to that of the projected cost of £80m for sending waste to landfill over the same period of time because of rising landfill taxes.

The council is currently going through the procurement process to purchase the equipment needed for the plant, but plans to run and operate it through its own strategic partner, Swindon Commercial Services Limited, rather than a private contractor to allow greater flexibility.

Swindon Borough Council head of waste management Richard Fisher told MRW: “By maintaining the control over the facility we will be able to increase the capacity when required to fit in with Swindon’s growth.

“This is not just about waste management but it is also about providing heat and power for the area.”

At the moment it is not clear whether Swindon Borough Council will have the capacity to inject the power produced directly back into the grid as this is dependent on the type of technology which is selected.

Fisher said: “Initially we will be looking to build a relatively small facility which can process around 10,000 tonnes of waste. However, we want to have the potential to generate power from up to 130,000 tonnes which will allow us to look at commercial and industrial waste as well as municipal waste in the long term.”

The council hopes to have a contract agreed and in place by January 2011 with a view to the first plant being up and running by August of that year.

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