New waste management direction confirms need for £240m Becon Project says Becon Consortium
The Department of Environment’s (DOE) Environmental Policy Division has confirmed that the recent EU Commission Communication on the Circular Economy has “signalled a significant shift in the future direction of travel for waste management” and “will have a major impact on our waste management infrastructure requirements” in Northern Ireland. In a recent letter to the DOE Strategic Planning Division they suggest that with more stringent limitations being proposed by Europe on the amount of waste permitted to landfill, alongside more ambitious recycling targets, this will now require Northern Ireland to have 2-3 times more thermal waste treatment (energy from waste) capacity than was previously assessed.
According to the Becon Consortium, the private sector group behind inward investment plans for a £240million integrated waste management facility at Hightown Quarry, Mallusk, this new assessment confirms the need for the Becon project as part of Northern Ireland’s overall waste management solution.
The Department point to a Circular Economy Package published by the EU Commission on 2nd December 2015 which signalled this significant shift in direction. Their analysis suggests that proposals to increase recycling rates from the current 50% by 2020 to 65% by 2030 coupled with a reduction in the permitted waste to landfill, down from 35% by 2020 to 10% by 2030 will have a major impact on waste infrastructure requirements in Northern Ireland. They consider that a rough assessment based on these proposals would require around 2-3 times the current assessed thermal waste treatment needs – from between 200,000 tonnes-305,000 tonnes to around 668,000-759,000 tonnes per year.
The letter was published as part of the recent planning approval for increased waste throughput for the Bombardier Energy from Waste facility in East Belfast, issued on Friday 25th March 2016.
Speaking about the developments, John Ahern, Becon Consortium said;
“Planning approval for the increased waste throughput for the Bombardier Energy from Waste facility in East Belfast is welcome evidence that the Department recognises the need for increased thermal treatment capacity in Northern Ireland. The clarity provided by the DOE Environmental Policy Division that new European proposals will also dramatically increase the need for additional energy from waste capacity here. The European proposals also set more ambitious targets for recycling and it is important to remember that a significant proportion of the footprint of the Becon project includes recycling infrastructure which could Increase arc21’s constituent councils’ overall recycling rates by up to 10%.
“Together these developments now paint a very clear picture of the need for Northern Ireland to catch up with the rest of Europe and to put in place the necessary infrastructure to both manage our waste more sustainably and maximise its value through material and energy recovery.
“We believe the £240m Becon project, designed to deal with municipal black bin waste from the arc21 council area is a vital part of the solution to meet that growing need. It will provide the type of proven and reliable infrastructure that Northern Ireland needs to manage its waste and at the same time help it meet its European obligations. We have also always contended that the project has been entirely consistent with the private sector Bombardier waste facility and that there is more than enough waste for both projects. It is important to note that councils carry legal obligations on how they manage and audit their waste which they cannot delegate to the private sector. This was reinforced by Bombardier’s own planning application which clearly stated that their proposal “is not reliant on Local Authority collected waste” and “does not seek to compete with the arc21 Becon Project”.