There is a national need to reduce food waste and the Government has a strategy to put food waste to good use, generating renewable energy and recovering nutrients to return to land. It is expected that the Government’s 2021 Environment Act, will require homes and businesses to separate and recycle food waste, just like they do for cardboard, glass, plastics and other recyclable materials.
Anaerobic digestion facilities will be key to putting this collected food waste to good use. They do it by turning the waste into a renewable and reliable supply of ‘green’ biomethane gas, and digestate, a compost-like soil improver – a win-win for our communities and the environment.
Our proposed anaerobic digestion facility, if approved, would serve homes and businesses in the North West.
We are proposing to apply for planning permission from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council to redevelop our existing resource recovery park on Lower Eccleshill Road in Darwen.
Although we have planning permission to completely replace our current resource recovery park with a modern energy recovery centre, we are now also working on plans for an anaerobic digestion facility at our existing resource recovery park.
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.
Working with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
To make way for our anaerobic digestion facility, we’re proposing to demolish an existing waste transfer station at our resource recovery park on Lower Eccleshill Road. A new waste transfer station would then be constructed within the site boundary of our resource recovery park, which is in an industrial area 1.6km north of Darwen centre.
The proposed anaerobic digestion facility would sit alongside the new waste transfer station and will be comprised of a reception building, five digester tanks and several other smaller tanks.
Overall, the development will sit on a footprint of 60,000m2 which is roughly the size of eight football pitches. The anaerobic digestion building will be 2,800m2. The digester tanks will have a maximum diameter of 28m and a maximum height of 16m. The other tanks and infrastructure will be no higher than 19.5m.
Whilst our resource recovery park is not expanding, the total amount of waste processed at the site would increase. This is because we would accommodate both the new anaerobic digestion facility and waste transfer station with more efficient use of space.
Our Darwen site is a good location for the anaerobic digestion facility, because:
- SUEZ has had a presence in the North West for over 20 years, and has identified that there is a capacity gap for food waste treatment in the region.
- The site is located close to several major conurbations and the motorway network.
- The site is located close to the gas grid, allowing ease of transportation of gas from the plant to be processed and then onto peoples’ homes and businesses.
- The project facilitates our ambition to invest and secure jobs in our existing resource recovery park in Darwen.
Following surveys and site investigations, we do not anticipate that there will be any new impacts on biodiversity, noise, odour or traffic from the proposed facility and it will not alter the character of the surrounding area.
We are currently working towards creating an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to support the planning application.
Currently, the resource recovery park receives 67 delivery vehicles per day (134 journeys - 67 in and 67 out of the site). Traffic servicing the new anaerobic digestion facility would not significantly increase the number of journeys overall. It is anticipated that it would result in an increase of around 20 trucks per day (40 journeys - 20 in and 20 out of the site).
Deliveries will only take place between 8:00 and 17:00. The vast majority of deliveries would take place during weekdays.
Construction traffic will be subject to a Traffic Management Plan to ensure safe movement of traffic in and around the site.
Odour 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.
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 however, 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.
Visual and landscape
The site is located in a largely industrial area and set back from Lower Eccleshill Road. The facility will only be visible from some location points in the local area from the public rights of way to the north and east. A Landscape and Visual appraisal will be undertaken to assess any effects from the proposed ADs.
We anticipate most of the development to be largely screened by the surrounding vegetation. Furthermore, the AD tanks and building will be clad in colours that will be sympathetic to the surroundings to minimise intrusion.
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 facility would then be expected to commence in 2025.
After the public consultation ends, our next step will be the submission of our planning application to Blackburn with Darwen Council which we expect will happen in autumn 2022.
After we submit our planning application, you will also be able to submit your views directly to the council.