Councils join forces for £2.1bn energy and waste project

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FIVE Tees Valley borough authorities (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar/Cleveland, and Stockton) Durham County Council and Newcastle City Council want to build a new Energy Recovery Facility in the region.

This could see 450,000 tonnes of waste a year being used to generate electricity, and potentially heating nearby homes and businesses.

A spokesperson for the project commented: “By joining forces the seven councils can create a new facility using the latest technology, reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfill, which is better for the environment.

“The commercial opportunity this proposed plant also presents could mean that we can generate significant income, thereby offsetting costs for the taxpayer.

“While we would obviously urge everyone to recycle as much as possible, we appreciate that not all rubbish can be repurposed.

“We know that the volume of non-recyclable material we have to deal with is only likely to increase as our population and household numbers grow.

“The Government is also expected to widen the definition of municipal waste to include similar commercial and industrial leftovers.”

The proposed Tees Valley Energy Recovery Facility, on a on a 25 acre brown field site in Redcar and Cleveland currently owned by the South Tees Development Corporation, would use around 450,000 tonnes of waste a year.

By 2025, it is estimated that the five Tees Valley councils will collectively generate around 200,000 tonnes of waste.

A further 200,000 tonnes could come from the two larger council areas to the north, with any spare capacity offered for commercial waste disposal, which would generate income.

New Energy Recovery Facilities are ‘up to five times more efficient’ at reducing carbon emissions compared to some Energy from Waste facilities, saving thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gasses from being released into the atmosphere each year as a result of the North East’s rubbish.

At the same time the plant would be a source of renewable electricity with a capacity of up to 49.9 megawatts – enough to meet the needs of more than 32,000 homes.

With the project representing a capital investment of up to £300 million, and the total value of the contract being £2.1 billion over an initial contract of 29 years, and a possible 11-year extension, the councils have begun a Europe-wide search for a contractor to build and run the new facility.

It is hoped to have that partner in place by December 2021, with the construction phase creating over 300 jobs.

Once up and running, by 1 April 2026, the Energy Recovery Facility would then create a further 40 permanent positions.