Merthyr Tydfil £400m waste energy plant plan submitted

Published on Tuesday, 04 January 2011 11:33
Posted by Scott Buckler

Plans have been submitted for a £400m energy-from-waste generating station near Merthyr TydfilThe Brig y Cwm plant, which developers say could create 650 construction jobs, is going to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) for a decision.


Covanta Energy says it will generate enough energy to power all the homes in Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly areas.

But Friends of the Earth claimed it would "completely undermine" efforts to cut waste and boost recycling.

The IPC - the independent body that examines applications for nationally significant projects ranging from railways to power stations - has a month to decide on the plan.

It would then go out to further consultation before a final go-ahead as part of a process take up to a year, with a further three years before the plant is ready to open.

Covanta has already held consultation days in the Merthyr area last year, and reduced the size of the proposed site, west of Fochriw and next to the Ffos-y-Fran opencast mine site.

The company was also due to take into account concerns over emissions, smell and dust, traffic and disposal of bottom ash to include in its environmental statement.Getting rid of waste and utilising the burning of waste to generate power which is then converted into electricity is the new holy grail in dealing with our rubbish.

Especially as higher penalties will have to be paid for every tonne of waste that local authorities dump in landfill sites.

So, despite recycling rates improving to on average 40% in just about every council, there's still a vast residual waste problem.In the past few years Wales has seen a number of proposals for waste treatment plants. The biggest are the energy-from-waste plants.

Because of its size, permission for Brig y Cwm is to be decided by the Infrastructure Planning Commission in London. Any energy provider over 50MW is beyond the assembly government's authority, and like we saw with the Viridor plant in Cardiff recently, there is opposition to these new types of incinerator.

The questions arising from all these plans is how much waste would be diverted from Welsh landfill sites, or would tens of thousands of tonnes of rubbish be imported from other areas of Britain? And will the opposition to incinerating waste eventually desist?

The plant, which aims to employ 65 people permanently, would take approximately 750,000 tonnes of non-recyclable household and business waste a year.It would generate about 70MW of electricity, enough to power up to 180,000 homes.

But Friends of the Earth's planning campaigner Mike Birkin said it was "terrible news".

"This huge waste plant will need to burn thousands of tonnes of valuable resources every year to make it cost-effective, and this will completely undermine efforts to cut waste and boost recycling," he said.

"Because incineration creates far fewer jobs than recycling it would have an impact on local employment too.

"The government must not allow the new fast-track planning systems to dump this waste incinerator on the people of Merthyr."

Source: ©BBC News

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