Leeds: Waste-to-energy ‘incinerator’ plan looks set to be rejected

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PLANS for a new waste treatment and re-usable energy plant in east Leeds - which would use technologies favoured by environmental campaigners - look set to be thrown out by planning chiefs next week.

The new ‘anaerobic digestion’ and energy recovery plant could potentially be the THIRD new waste sorting and recycling facility in the Cross Green area, to follow the Veolia and Biffa incinerators, which have already got the go-ahead.

The former is already underway, and will treat household waste. The latter, treating industrial waste, has planning permission.

The proposed new plant in Bridgewater Road would work 24-7, processing up to 195,000 tonnes of waste per year and could produce 10 megawatts of energy, enough to power thousands of homes.

It would use the autoclave and pyrolsis systems of breaking down waste. Autoclave effectively ‘cooks’ the rubbish and destroys any bacteria., Pyrolysis uses ultra high temperatures to break the rubbish down.

Environmental campaigners have said that anaerobic digestion can be a good way of creating reusable energy, because it potentially produces less emissions.

However the plan by Clean Power Ltd and Network Rail Infrastructure has been recommended for refusal when it comes before the City Plans Panel next week.

A report to the panel says the applicants have “failed to demonstrate how the proposed development would utilise the adjacent railway line to any substantial extent for freight movements in connection with the proposed use”.

It is also thought that the scheme would jeopardise potential housing development in the vicinity, on land which has already been earmarked for homes.

The report acknowledges, however, that Leeds produces enough waste to justify a third new waste treatment plant in the city.

Simon Bowens, local spokesman for Friends of the Earth, told the YEP that if “done properly”, the plant could be “a potentially good form of reusable energy”.

“It breaks down waste and it is limited in the local air quality emissions,” he explained.

“It needs to be done properly and effectively, but it’s one of the better forms of dealing with waste, and uses technology that we have supported in the past.”

He did however express concerns that just a proportion of the waste would be treated with anaerobic technologies.

“One third is anaerobic, and we are happy with that,” he said.

“But the pyrolsis element is still incineration by another name, and we wouldn’t be able to support it.”

He added that transporting the waste by train rather than trucks would “significantly” reduce any impact on local air quality. “If they ship the waste in by rail then that’s fantastic,” he said.

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