A firm is celebrating after finally getting the go-ahead to open a £9m green power plant and environment centre near Keynsham.
The facility at Charlton Field Lane will turn organic waste into enough green power and heat for just over half of Keynsham’s homes, and aims to be up and running by early next year.
Recycling business ReOrganics Ltd, which currently takes green waste from landscapers and contractors and turns it into compost and mulch, and Resourceful Earth, a team of funders and experts in the field of green energy, have secured planning permission for the new facility on the 34-acre site.
But the scheme has been delayed by several years because of a failed legal battle brought by two neighbours in nearby Publow against the company, which used to trade as Hinton Organics. The opposition related to odour coming from the site and fears that it was putting locals’ health at risk.
The permission that has now been granted by Bath & North East Somerset Council is for the construction of a facility to process food waste via anaerobic digestion (AD) to create electrical energy for export to the National Grid, heat for wood drying and digestate for fertiliser. There will also be an education centre and a new access.
Because the site is surrounded by the Green Belt, the Secretary of State had to rubberstamp the plans.
There are conditions with the permission which include a control on the number of lorry movements and the need for an “odour management plan” to ensure the development does not have an unacceptable impact on the local community.
The food waste will come into the site from a variety of sources, including local councils and businesses.
Jo Downes, of ReOrganics in Keynsham, said: “There is a great deal of investment and local support for this project. ReOrganics established a local residents’ liaison group a few years ago and they meet on a regular basis. The group are extremely supportive and have been involved in plans from the word go.
“The anaerobic digestion facility will replace the open-air composting facility and is a natural evolutionary approach from simply composting organic waste to tapping into all the resources that organic waste can offer, methane gas being one. Green energy is a much-needed commodity and it feels great to be part of a solution to the pressing energy issue facing us locally and globally.”
The education centre will be open to schools and universities, businesses and organisations interested in learning more about energy from waste and the potential of emerging green technologies.
There are currently six staff working on the site and that looks set to increase to 12.
The company says that the food waste will be put into a storage area which is under negative pressure, stopping any nasty smells from escaping.
The tanks where the methane gas will be collected are doubled lined and the methane will be tapped off immediately and not stored. It will go into a combined heat and power engine which will use it to produce electricity.
Angus Cunningham, from ReOrganics, said that there were currently only between 10 and 20 commercial AD centres in the UK but in Germany there were more than 5,000.
Read more about the company’s plans at http://www.resourcefulearth.co.uk/