The Gloucester incinerator: public consultation event…

A small group of us cycled over to the second consultation event at Javelin park on Sunday, for some first hand information from the two remaining bidders and the representatives from the County Council.

The Complete Circle website

The Urbaser Balfour Beatty website

There were three Portakabins just by the car park, with the two bidders on either side. I went into the Complete Circle cabin first as I had already viewed all their factsheets and website material, so felt I knew the most about their scheme.

Well, after 10 minutes in there, I was pretty sure I knew more about their scheme than they did! I lost track of the number of times a couple of them said ‘i’ll have to ask someone else’. Their design is bland and bulky and at around 45 metres in height over most of the building, this presents a large intrusion in the local landscape. There were very few answers to some of my only slightly probing questions and I honestly felt like the object was to just display their website information without the ability to expand on it.

Next was the Urbaser & Balfour Beatty cabin, which was a marked improvement on the first bidders efforts, in a number of ways. The UBB team were technically better prepared and able to comment on and explain both the principles involved and their own scheme design + why they had altered some of the elements from the first consultation.

Their efforts were greatly helped by an interesting overall design, a real model of the facility and a computer fly-through. Their design is broken up into distinct sections, which fall in height along the building, giving a lower overall mass, also broken up by large green sections. Their technical people were able to answer all my questions and the overall impression was far more convincing and reliable.

The County cabin was last and was in many ways the important one, considering they are in charge of the tendering process. They were able to answer my questions and they seemed fully aware of the many issues involved, particularly surrounding the problem of getting to the magic 70% recycling rate (which only Austria have hit in Europe).

The next stage for them is to seek to co-mingle all the recyclable materials in a single bin (much like other districts), which would certainly boost the present 48% rate. Their example of Tewkesbury Borough Council going from 32% to 54% in a year, after introducing this type of scheme, is a good indicator. 48% could go to 60% in a year and get to 70% based on continuing to support and promote recycling.

My questions and issues:

1) Why no pre-incineration sorting of the ‘rubbish’? This was the main issue, given that so much of what people put into their black bins can be recycled.

2) What are the overall emissions, in terms of particles and CO2?

3) Will the emissions data be fed live onto the website?

4) What frequency of bin lorries will be required and will their be any non-local deliveries?

5) How will the ash be disposed of?

6) What is the CO2 output per tonne of waste?

7) What is the visual impact of the proposals? This was particularly interesting, given CABE’s response included the quote, ‘…fits seemlessly into the countryside.’!

I’ve also just sent off a query to UBB concerning wanting information on the WRATE system information which they are submitting. This will hopefully give an overall comparison figure for the NET emissions issue.

‘WRATE (Waste and Resources Assessment Tool for the Environment) software compares the environmental impacts of different municipal waste management systems.’

One of the main conclusions from the process that day was picking up on both bidders assertion that NET CO2 emissions would be reduced by more than 20,000 tonnes per year, when compared to landfill. I did ask if this included all the linked processes, such as all delivery vehicle movements, but neither bidder had this information with them, but this was included in their environmental assessment package.

The other major plus for the incinerator approach is the production of electricity. I forgot to ask about the proposed solar panels on the roofs, but energy production is certainly a very important element of the package.

So, the overall winners by some way were Urbaser Balfour Beatty. I’m going to have to look into the NET emissions figures further, partly because of the Methane issue – methane as a green house gas in more than 20 times more powerful than Carbon and is released in huge amounts from landfill.

I’m certainly not as opposed as I was and accept that landfill is not a good approach to waste management. My main concern is still the burning of waste which could otherwise be recycled, therefore making more efficient use of what are valuable and limited resources.

out

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