Public consultation opens regarding EA application.
Gent Fairhead submits revised application.
Work started on new planning application featuring a reduced stack height.
Environmental permit refused.
Permission granted for variations to plans.
Site works commence.
Public consultation opened.
Gent Fairhead submits amendment to application.
Restriction on sourcing waste from outside Essex lifted.
Application made to lift restrictions on waste sources.
Construction of an integrated waste management facility.
Gent Fairhead is planning to develop an integrated waste management facility at the Rivenhall Airfield site in Witham, Essex.
The 25.3-hectare site benefits from two planning permissions for integrated waste management facilities, on the same piece of land (ESS/38/06/BTE and ESS/37/08/BTE). The facility will include:
Anaerobic digestion (AD) plant treating mixed organic waste, producing biogas converted to electricity through biogas generators;
Materials recovery facility (MRF) for mixed dry recyclable waste to recover materials e.g. paper, plastic, metals;
Mechanical biological treatment (MBT) facility for the treatment of residual municipal and residual commercial and industrial wastes to produce a solid recovered fuel (SRF);
Combined heat and power (CHP) plant to burn SRF to produce 33 MW of electricity, heat and steam;
Paper pulping facility.
In February 2016, the Essex Chronicle reported that excavation works had started for the facility. The work commenced following Essex County Council's decision grant planning permission to Gent Fairhead for the latest changes to the proposed waste plant at Rivenhall Airfield. The latest plans granted by Essex County Council were for a Section 73 “variation” application which were claimed to be a “minor” change to the plans. The application includes the stated aim of increasing the incinerator capacity of the facility from 360,000 tonnes per annum to 595,000 tonnes per annum and decreasing all forms of recycling including paper recycling and food waste composting. The total input capacity of the facility was proposed to be 863,700 tonnes per annum.
In October 2018, Gent Fairhead signed an agreement which will see Indaver join the project. Indaver's CEO, Paul De Bruycker, said, "The project has been on our radar for a long time and we are helping the initiators to adjust the plans." Once the final design is accepted, Indaver will take over and develop the project.
The project has been subject to a lengthy planning process. In August 2014, Gent Fairhead submitted plans to Essex County Council proposing a delay in the start of the construction of its new integrated waste management facility. Planning approval for the facility was originally granted in 2010.
In December 2014, Gent Fairhead submitted a new application to Essex County Council requesting the lifting of restrictions imposed upon approval which limited the facility to only using SRF produced in Essex and also stipulated that only half of the paper and card treated at the facility could be sourced from outside the east of England. On 3rd February 2015, the Council approved the application, thus enabling SRF and waste to be sourced from outside the county.
In September 2015, the Essex Chronicle reported that Gent Fairhead had submitted a further application to Essex County Council which indicated that the recycling parts of the plant will be reduced to handle 170,000 tonnes of waste per year, while the amount of waste to be incinerated will be increased. However, Steven Smith, spokesman for Gent Fairhead, stated that: "The current permission allows for the Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) to treat, recover and recycle up to 853,000 tonnes of waste each year. Neither the capacity of the IWMF, nor the permitted number of vehicle movements, will be changed at all. There have been some modifications to individual process capacities, but the principles of the integrated facility have not altered."
In September 2017, the Environment Agency (EA) approved Gent Fairhead's environmental permit application for the development of an integrated waste management facility at the Rivenhall Airfield site in Witham, Essex. In December 2016, the EA had refused Gent Fairhead's application on the grounds that the proposed 35-metre stack was insufficient and did not represent Best Available Technique (BAT) for the installation. Gent Fairhead subsequently submitted a revised application in March 2017 and issued a screening and scoping request to Essex County Council incorporating an increased stack height. A public consultation on the application closed on 18th July.
The September 2017 EA approval is based upon the construction of a 58-metre stack. However, the planning permission from Essex County Council is for a 35-metre stack. Gent Fairhead needs to align its mismatched environmental permit and planning permissions, and in October 2018 it submitted an application to the EA to vary its environment permit to allow a 35-metre stack which would be enabled by using different emission technology, while also submitting additional information to the Council for planning permission for a 58-metre stack.