Agency reconsiders incinerator permits

The Environment Agency has been forced to revoke the permit for Waste Recycling Group’s proposed Salt End incinerator in Hull because it failed to explain fully how greenhouse gas emissions were taken into account in its original decision.

In February, the Agency issued a revocation notice to WRG for the permit to avoid a legal challenge from Friends of the Earth. FoE said the Agency had not explained how it took account of greenhouse gas emissions in issuing the permit for the 240,000-tonne per year plant.

WRG had until 8 March to appeal the decision, but decided not to. The announcement followed the High Court’s decision last December to quash a permit for Veolia’s proposed 210,000-tonne per year incinerator at Newhaven, East Sussex, on similar grounds.

The High Court ordered the permit be quashed on 5 December – the day a judicial review on the permit was supposed to begin – after the Agency conceded its explanatory decision document should have given more details of how greenhouse gas emissions were factored into its thinking when deciding whether the plant used best available techniques (BAT). The complaint in that instance was made by a local resident.

According to Environment Agency policy officer Haydn Jones, the BAT assessment looks at technical options for incinerators such as abatement technologies. Different options could have an impact on plant efficiency and hence its greenhouse gas emissions, but this would be marginal.

A policy team has been set up to redetermine the permits once the waste companies have resubmitted them. The Agency hopes to have both decided within six months.

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