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Incinerator seeks new home after Heathrow vote

2000 lakeside energy from waste colnbrook

Parliament’s vote in favour of the Heathrow third runway has intensified the search for a replacement site for the Lakeside energy-from-waste (EfW) facility, which would be demolished as a result.

Transport minister Jo Johnson told MPs in May that the Government did not regard the plant as a strategic asset, and any replacement would be a commercial matter between Heathrow Airport and joint owners Viridor and Grundon.

Lakeside is part of the Colbrook complex that also includes a MRF and a high-temperature incinerator.

The main EfW facility processes 450,000 tonnes a year of non-recyclable waste, primarily from the West London Waste Authority and adjacent council areas. It generates 37MW of power and directly employs 200 people.

Grundon said it would work in close partnership with Heathrow Airport to secure a replacement of the Lakeside EfW and associated facilities at Colnbrook.

A statement from the company said: “Grundon and Lakeside are seeking to replace these facilities with minimum disruption at the earliest opportunity, on a like-for-like basis at a nearby suitable site.”

Adam Afriyie, Conservative MP for nearby Windsor, told Parliament in May that relocation costs would be £500-£700m and said he doubted Heathrow could afford this.

He said any gap in service would be “enormously harmful due to the inability to process the levels of waste that it is contracted to process” and that relocation would take at least five years, assuming “there will be no objections to people having an incinerator and a waste processing plant located near their homes”.

Johnson said the departments for the environment and business had “assessed that the loss of the plant would not impact the UK’s ability to meet environmental targets on either a regional or a national basis.

“For these reasons, it is the Government’s view that the Lakeside EfW plant is neither a strategic energy nor a waste asset. With no regulatory or policy reason to replace the plant, it would not be appropriate to mandate that it should be replaced.”

Replacement was therefore considered a commercial matter for its owners and Heathrow in which the Government would not intervene.

Labour London Assembly member Leonie Cooper, who has campaigned to retain Lakeside EfW, told MRW: “I would suggest that Heathrow should pay for the entire cost of relocating the Lakeside facilities, including any additional access infrastructure, because the relocation is entirely down to the expansion and for no other reason.”


Readers' comments (5)

  • The facility was never needed in any instance.

    Incineration is old technology in a new environmental arena where other systems offer cheaper and more cost-effective solutions.

    Incineration requires Gate Fees which are not needed in Renewable Fuels programmes where even waste is considered to be a valuable commodity where a processing company will pay £10-00 per tonne for the material. And this is because the end-product - the Renewable Fuel and By-Products as well as residual energy will generate an income equivalent to over £125 Million a year.

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  • Why does Julius not build the plant he describes? Mass burn Energy from Waste is long term reliable. I would love to see reliable and successful new technologies but almost everyone investing in this has lost their shirts so far. I an ready to collect the £10 per tonne he has on offer. Where can I deliver the material to?

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  • Of course the Government should facilitate the replacement of the Viridor/Grundon plant. Even if the Government do not facilitate the replacement plant those who want it moved will still have to pay. It can take 15 years or a lot more time to obtain a new location, planning and building for a relocation. This all requires positive Government backing the same as HS2.

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  • Julius is correct. Time to dump these redundant and polluting incinerators. There is far better, far cheaper technology now and British made too. Of course the industry has invested too much in the redundant techs to take up with the new processes but it will happen soon.

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  • I would always support new approaches but have to agree with others that many of them just cannot achieve funding due to a lack of reliable operating data. In general, other technologies are available but the overall picture is that that they either cost to much to build, too much to operate or, more importantly, have an increased lifecycle impact to those technologies currently being used (i.e. LCA of the construction of facilities with a shorter life vs "conventional" facilities.).

    Please feel free to offer examples of different technologies. It would be great if we had a greater technology mix so would be truly interested to hear.

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