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Vital social infrastructure is now open for business

After nine years in the making and a £223m investment, Viridor’s Trident Park energy recovery facility (ERF) was opened in June by Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones, who hailed the event as a “momentous occasion” for Wales.

With its striking design resting against a backdrop of Cardiff Bay, the R1 energy efficient facility treats 350,000 tonnes of residual waste a year, with 172,000 tonnes coming from Prosiect Gwyrdd (PG), a partnership of five local authorities: Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Newport, Monmouthshire and Caerphilly.

The facility exports 30MW to the national grid, enough to power 50,000 homes, while enabling future opportunities for ‘smart city’ local energy and heat networks.

The first partnership of its kind in Wales and among one of the biggest financial investments, the ground-breaking partnership between Viridor, Prosiect Gwyrdd and the Welsh Government has delivered vital social infrastructure that will benefit the community of south-east Wales for years to come.

The project demonstrates innovation, and was helped to get off the ground by the Government’s proactive approach to encouraging the creation of local authority hubs for residual waste. This positive action assisted in consolidating tonnage into a single contract.

Community benefit was at the heart of this ambitious project. During the peak of construction, it provided jobs for 600 people, 40% of whom came from surrounding communities. The facility now provides 37 permanent jobs with an apprenticeship scheme starting in the autumn.

Direct economic benefit to the tune of £40m was injected into the local economy, with 150 contracts awarded to nearby businesses and some £15,000 donated to local causes during construction. In addition to housing a purpose-built education and visitor centre, a £50,000 a year community benefit fund was established to support local community initiatives.

energy recovery facility

While some express concern that energy recovery risks compromising recycling, the Welsh Government’s strategy clearly aligns enhanced recycling with renewable energy, with the PG contract designed around Welsh councils achieving 70% recycling. Indeed, the forthcoming Welsh Environment Bill is clear that “increased recycling and recovery of waste will help to decrease pressure on natural resources while also contributing towards positive results for both the economy and the environment”.

What’s more, Viridor will recycle the air pollution control residue from Trident Park and three other ERF facilities, taking a significant step closer to them becoming fully zero waste to landfill solutions. Shortlisted in the British Construction Industry Awards for 2015, Trident Park is a landmark for the integration and partnership that went into delivering it, and is now fitting into the fabric and harmony of the surrounding landscape.  

Dan Cooke is director of external affairs at Viridor

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