Recycling and recovery

SUEZ recycling and recovery UK plans to build anaerobic digestion facility in Darwen approved

Plans to build an anaerobic digestion facility were given the go ahead by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council at a meeting of its Planning and Highways Committee last night (Thursday 16 February 2023). Part of a network of proposed facilities, the Darwen Anaerobic Digestion Facility would turn food waste into green energy, could create jobs in the town and reduce reliance on landfill in the North West.

With this new planning permission granted and a previous permission already in place for an energy-from-waste facility, SUEZ is now well placed to promptly build whichever facility is the most appropriate to meet the future needs of Darwen, Blackburn and the wider region when the detail of Government reforms to waste and recycling policy is announced.

The anaerobic digestion facility, which would be built on the site of the company’s existing resource recovery park at Lower Eccleshill Road in Darwen, would produce enough biomethane every day to power almost 7,000 homes and reduce the reliance on gas derived from fossil fuel origin in the area.

Anaerobic digestion is an alternative way of processing food waste to produce renewable energy and avoiding carbon emissions. The facility would divert food waste away from landfill by turning it into biogas which is then upgraded to biomethane and fed into the gas grid or converted into electricity via generators at the facility. The leftover compost-like material is used as a biofertiliser.

The plans also include a new transfer station for the Lower Eccleshill Road site alongside the anaerobic digestion facility. Both elements will sit within the existing footprint of the current facility and enable a more efficient waste processing operation for potentially Blackburn, Darwen, Lancashire and other parts of the North West.

Regional Director North for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, Steve Patterson welcomed the decision by the authority: “Approval for this facility means that we will be able to respond quickly to develop the most appropriate facility to meet Blackburn with Darwen’s future needs when government policy and market conditions are clearer.

“We are delighted with this decision that will allow us to invest in and modernise our Lower Eccleshill Road site to create local jobs and develop a facility that would provide a local solution for food waste that produces renewable energy and can deliver nutrients back to the soil.”

Cllr Quesir Mahmood, Exec Member for Growth at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said: “We are incredibly pleased to see the planning application for this site approved and look forward to working closely with SUEZ as it develops.

“The site will bring innovative and sustainable technologies to our borough, spotlighting Darwen as a leading example within this field.”

Cllr Jim Casey, Assistant Exec Member for Environment, said: “Tackling food waste is a huge priority for us locally, with a recent bin analysis revealing that, on average, a shocking 44% of general waste bin contents can be attributed to food waste in the borough.

“This plant will facilitate the recycling of that food waste into a bio-product, saving it from landfill, as well as prompting residents to consider how much food they are throwing away each week - benefits that are both environmental and economic.

“We eagerly await more information from Government on what the plans are for segregated food waste collections over the coming years so we can work with residents to deliver this successfully.”


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