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WRG maximises landfill sites with energy crops

WRG has begun growing energy crops and maize on some of its landfill sites, which will be used at Drax Power Station and in anaerobic digestion (AD) plants.

The move is part of the company’s transition into energy generation, and is believed to be the first waste management business of its kind to undertake an energy crop initiative of this scale. Crops such as miscanthus grass and short rotation coppice (SRC), both high-yield energy crops, are being planted at 14 landfill sites across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Humberside and Yorkshire.

Forage maize is currently being planted at WRG’s Sutton Courtenay landfill, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Grown across 40 hectares, the maize will form the first fuel for a 1.5MW AD plant which is being planned for the site.

Subject to approval, the AD facility will help to power the company’s operations at Sutton Courtenay. Eventually, the maize will be planted across 100 hectares of land to fuel a “substantial” proportion of the site’s power. Additional maize will be supplied from local farms and other WRG landfill operations.

WRG senior restoration and energy crop manager Mark Pailing said: “This is a very exciting development for the company and builds on our track record of sustainable reclamation, recycling and regeneration.”

Growth of miscanthus and SRC crops across 100 hectares of land was given permission following the completion of a successful three-hectare feasibility study at the former Breighton landfill site near Selby. Harvesting is planned after the third year of planting and is expected to generate 8-12 tonnes per hectare. Once the crops have been harvested, WRG plans to sell them to Drax to power its biomass plants.

Natural England, which advises the Government on the natural environment, has helped to fund the project, which will see an additional 100 hectares of crops planted across a mixture of operational and closed sites around the UK. WRG is also hoping to expand SRC-use for leachate treatment at selected landfill sites in the coming two or three years.

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