Envar Composting are pleased to provide an update on our Regeneration Project at our site in Woodhurst. We have recently submitted our Section 25 response to Cambridge County Council’s formal request for further information following the statutory consultation exercise on the Planning Application. The Planning Authority will now consider our application and provide the outcome in the next few months.
Our Regeneration Project will be a first of its kind optimal, organic waste processing facility which will produce a maximum yield of high quality organic products including green gas, peat free compost and biofertilizer pellets, thus contributing to carbon reduction, less dependence on fossil fuels and increased fuel security and energy independence.
The technology centres around dry anaerobic digestion which will allow biomethane to be captured from the treatment process which will be used as a biofuel and to supply green gas to the grid – this supports Govt policy for the production of renewable energy through the Green Gas Support Scheme.
Digestate from this process will be mixed with waste carbon dioxide to produce a nutrient rich and carbon capturing biofertilizer pellet. This pellet offers a 90% reduction in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions compared to traditional chemical based fertilizers. This fits with Govt policy for carbon capture, Net Zero by 2050 and the transition to the new farming incentive scheme (ELMS) which will reward farmers for more sustainable farming practices.
Heat required for the project will be provided through a healthcare waste energy recovery facility (HERF) or incinerator. Following the Government Waste Hierarchy, this waste cannot be re-used or recycled, leaving only incineration or landfill as disposal options. Incineration sits higher on the hierarchy (i.e. is more preferable) than landfill. Heat from waste material is a more sustainable alternative to burning wood or drawing fossil based energy from the grid.
As part of our recent Section 25 preparation we have carried out additional work to address concerns from some local residents regarding the healthcare waste energy recovery facility. The first of these involves the need for this facility. We have spoken to other healthcare waste incinerators in the area, including hospitals, who have confirmed that they do not have any additional capacity to process any more healthcare waste under current operating conditions. Our studies have shown that significant amounts of clinical waste generated in the East of England are being treated outside the region and that there is lack of facilities both locally and nationally to deal with healthcare waste. The NHS state that “healthcare waste is being hauled long distances due to the sparse distribution of infrastructure or available capacity”. Our conclusion is that there is a need for the HERF in this area.
We have also received questions about the nature of the healthcare waste. Typical waste inputs include healthcare waste which is produced by organisations providing health and social care and other types of healthcare waste matter that can cause harm to the environment or human health if not treated correctly. Some examples of these potentially hazardous wastes found in everyday health care activities are medicines, needles, incontinence pads and soft waste such as dressings. The nature of this waste is that it cannot be recycled – so incinerating it provides a safe and appropriate disposal option that prevents any hazard to human health and the environment and is a better option than landfill. In order to operate the proposed facility, a bespoke Environmental Installation Permit will be required to be obtained from the Environment Agency. The Permit will strictly control the type and amount of waste that can be handled at the site.
Some local residents have asked whether the process of healthcare waste incineration is harmful to people or the environment. Our Air Quality & Health Impact Assessment work has been scrutinised by the Council’s expert and statutory and non-statutory consultees. In additional the Planning Authority has commissioned its own independent study on this. The conclusions of the additional work confirm our original findings that the impact on local air quality is likely to be small and that there is no significant threat to the health of people living and working nearby.
Some residents are concerned that the healthcare waste energy recovery facility (HERF) will be dirty and/or oversized. It will be capable of processing approximately 12,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of single-use and short-life healthcare waste which is a small element of the total tonnage of material (200,000tpa) processed at the site. The heat produced by the combustion process will be captured and will be fully utilised by the new technologies which conventionally would otherwise rely on non-renewable heat. The HERF incorporates state-of-the-art air pollution controls to avoid harmful gas components being released into the atmosphere. These are re-burnt or removed through systems which reduces the pollutants to an acceptable level as per relevant UK legislation including the Industrial Emissions Directive and the Best Available Techniques Conclusions BAT-C. The resultant ash from the process can be recycled and will be used in the manufacture of bricks. The process also provides the opportunity to implement carbon capture and sequestration. Capturing carbon dioxide from the filtered flue gas may allow us to send it for use in growing media, beverage production, fuel cell CO2 energy extraction for low carbon electricity production or similar appropriate uses where appropriate.
Overall, the project will provide many advantages for the local area – including a reduction of odour due to the enclosed system, local job creation estimated at 100 for the construction phase (including across our supply chain) and 22 for operations, less emissions from Envar lorries that will be converted to run on biomethane, bio-based fertilizer pellets for local farmers and growers and renewable green gas into local grid network.
All of our statements are based on facts provided by independent experts. Further facts and documentation are available on the Cambridge County Council Planning Portal Planning applications – Cambridge City Council. At Envar, we are always open to take and respond to questions – you can find further details about our plans on our dedicated website http://www.regenerationwoodhurst.com/ or contact us on this dedicated email.