Who is SUEZ?

SUEZ recycling and recovery UK is one of the country’s leading providers of innovative recycling and waste management services.


SUEZ employs more than 5,500 people in the UK and since 1988 they have been managing waste for local authority and business customers.


We have had a presence in the North West for over 20 years and currently employ 830 people in the region across 43 sites, with our regional head office located in Darwen.

Has SUEZ got experience of developing and operating anaerobic digestion facilities?

Yes. Working in partnership with Surrey County Council, SUEZ built an anaerobic digestion facility near Shepperton. The facility accepts approximately 40,000 tonnes of food waste from across Surrey and processes it to generate electricity and produce a soil improver, which can be used by farmers.

The project

What does this project mean for your plans for an energy recovery centre?

Although we have planning permission for an energy recovery centre, we are now also working on plans for an anaerobic digestion facility to process food waste. We will not be building both facilities. If we are granted planning permission for an anaerobic digestion facility, and when Government policy and market conditions are clearer, we will choose to build either the energy recovery centre or construct a new anaerobic digestion facility and replace the existing waste transfer station with a new purpose-built transfer station alongside.


This will be determined by whichever facility is the most appropriate to meet the future needs of Darwen, Blackburn and the wider region.

How much waste will the facility treat? Where will it come from?

The anaerobic digestion facility is designed to handle 100,000 tonnes of food waste per year. We envisage that this would come from across Blackburn, Darwen and surrounding areas in the North West.

How much energy will the facility produce?

The plant has been designed to produce up to 1,500m3 per hour of biomethane gas. This is enough to supply gas to 7,700 homes.

How will you get the gas from the facility to peoples' homes and businesses?

Our facility will either send gas directly into the local gas network after cleaning, or turn it to electricity, via gas-powered generators, and export it to the local electricity grid.


One of the reasons why our Darwen site was chosen for the anaerobic digestion facility was its proximity to the gas grid, with a likely connection point near to the site.

What is anaerobic digestion and how does it work?

Anaerobic digestion is an alternative way of processing food waste, while also producing renewable energy and retaining vital nutrients that can be returned to the land. The process is called anaerobic because it takes place in a sealed tank without oxygen. Like composting, it is a natural process dependent on the micro-organisms that break down organic waste.

Why is it a good idea?

SUEZ is working to help reduce food waste and put food that is wasted to good use generating renewable energy in accordance with the Government’s Our Waste, Our Resources Strategy for England. The anaerobic digestion facility can help the Government meet its ambitions to eliminate food waste going to landfill by 2030. In addition, the biogas created from food waste provides a source of renewable energy. The gas and electricity generated by the facility would be exported to the local distribution network and electricity used to power the plant.


One of the major benefits of anaerobic digestion is the reduction in carbon dioxide and other Green House Gases released into the atmosphere, as a result of the following:

  • Putting food waste to good use by generating renewable energy and recovering nutrients to return to land
  • Renewable energy produced by the plant and therefore the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) released from fossil fuels

What is the project timeline?

Before submitting a planning application, SUEZ will be running a three-week public consultation between 5 September to 25 September 2022 to inform the local community and stakeholders about the proposals for the anaerobic digestion facility.


Once the consultation period has concluded and SUEZ has reviewed the feedback, a planning application will be submitted over the autumn.


If approved by the Council, and Government policy and market conditions allow us to, construction is expected to begin in 2023. Operation of the anaerobic digestion would then be expected to commence in 2025.

The impacts

What will be the traffic impacts during construction and operation?

During construction, traffic is not likely to exceed the traffic movements of the proposed development. There may be a few more cars associated with the staff and visitors to the construction site during the works. Construction traffic will be subject to a Traffic Management Plan to ensure safe movement of traffic in and around the site.


During operation, it is anticipated that it would result in an increase of around 20 trucks per day to the site (40 journeys - 20 in and 20 out). Deliveries will only take between 8:00 and 17:00. The vast majority of deliveries would take place during weekdays.

What are the working times for the facility?

Anaerobic digestion is a continuous process and so the anaerobic digestion facility would operate 24/7, with a skeleton staff maintained outside of delivery times to monitor and manage the process.


However, HGV deliveries to site will only take place between 8:00 and 17:00 and the vast majority of deliveries would take place during weekdays.

Will there be odour released from the facility?

Clearly food waste has an odour, however this will be controlled.


The anaerobic digestion process will be fully enclosed with material pumped around the plant reducing the release of odours. Air within the building and digesters will be treated prior to release and we will have strict odour limits.


Furthermore, we will operate within the permits granted by the Environment Agency and as with all SUEZ sites we have a commitment to being a good neighbour.

What will the visual impact be?

The site is located in a largely industrial area which is set back from Lower Eccleshill Road and situated 1.6km north of Darwen town centre.


The facility will be visible from some location points in the local area from the public rights of way to the north and east. We will be undertaking a Landscape and Visual Appraisal (LVA). The LVA assesses the landscape and visual effect of the proposed construction of an anaerobic digester facility from public rights of way, parks, viewpoints and residential areas.


The development will be largely screened by the surrounding vegetation. The anaerobic digestion tanks and building will be clad in colours that will be sympathetic to the surroundings to minimise intrusion.

Will there be increased noise during construction and operation?

A noise assessment is being carried out as part of the planning application, but it is not expected that the operational site will have an impact on the local area.


There might be some increased noise from time to time during some construction activities (such as demolition and piling) so we will manage our contractors to ensure that any operations that might potentially cause a temporary noise locally are not undertaken early in the mornings, evenings or weekends.

Consulting process

Will you be consulting local communities?

Yes. We have begun early discussions with the local authority and some of the core environmental bodies. Ahead of applying for the relevant planning permission we will consult with local communities to seek their views.


The public consultation period will take place between 5 to 25 September and at that stage, we will be able to share full details of the proposed works. Consultation feedback is important to us and plays a significant part in influencing our proposals. It helps us to understand what different people, community groups, landowners and organisations feel is most important to them and how we can improve our plans.

Community benefits

Will local communities benefit from the project? If so, how?

We anticipate that up to seven jobs will be associated with the operation of the anaerobic digestion plant.


SUEZ always looks for ways to play our part in the communities within which we operate. In Darwen, our Regional Director sits on the Darwen Town Deal Board and we have supported a range of local initiatives including, the Youth Zone Darwen and the Blackburn with Darwen Community Volunteer Awards.


Additionally, the SUEZ Communities Trust, provides funding awards of up to £50,000 to not-for-profit organisations near to our sites. Projects must be eligible under the rules of the Landfill Communities Fund.


The Trust will consider projects which focus on long lasting physical improvements at a specified site or amenity. Funding is typically awarded for the purchase of materials, equipment and the appointment of a contractor to undertake the improvement work. They do not fund staff posts, organisational running costs, training, events, vehicles or projects on school sites.


Since 2013, the Trust has funded 14 local projects totalling £265,000.


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Get in touch

If your question hasn't been answered, get in touch by filling out our feedback form or by phone on 01254 819700 or by FREEPOST at Planning feedback, PO box 6112, SUEZ House, 12-25 Grenfell Road, Maidenhead.