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Anaerobic digestion plant receives approval amidst public concern

An anaerobic digestion plant has been given approval to be built in Mitcham, UK, after the London government overturned the local council’s previous decision not to go ahead with the development.

The plant will use organic food waste from surrounding pubs and restaurants, converting it into electricity for the grid.

When Biofuels International contacted Merton Council for comment, it said there had been ‘very few decisions that have been overturned by the Mayor of London (Boris Johnson) across London since the post was created and this is the first time this has happened within Merton’.

Local residents were formerly concerned about the suitability of local roads for waste vehicles, the noise and smells that could be emitted from the site and the ‘visual impact of the development on the adjacent London Road Playing Fields’ – issues addressed by Johnson at a Merton hearing, the council says.

The company behind the plant, UK rubbish disposal division of Suez Environnement en France called Sita, has been forced to make some revisions to the plans because of the concerns. This included cutting the number of digestion tanks by 40% and reducing the height of the plant’s stack by 5m.

The anaerobic digestion part of the plant will also only deal with 40,000 tonnes of material per year, revised down from the original 100,000 tonnes. When built, the facility will process a maximum of 160,000 tonnes of material, including 80,000 tonnes from the waste transfer station and 40,000 from the materials recycling facility.

‘The site will generate between 2,558 - 7,291MW of heat for export to adjacent buildings and would heat between 250 and 730 houses. The facility would also generate potentially between 8,758 - 13,491MW of electricity per annum and this would be sufficient to power the facility 5,464MW and contribute between 3,294 - 8,074MW of energy to the national grid,’ a spokesperson from Merton council explains to Biofuels International.

Phase one of the development, which includes upgrading the existing waste transfer station and materials recycling facility, will be in operation by the end of next year. The second phase of development, including the construction of the anaerobic digestion plant, is expected to come on line by the end of 2015.

An additional 22 jobs will be created thanks to the development.