Work to start on Rookery Pit incinerator immediately

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Covanta Incinerator at Rookery Pit Artist's Impression
Covanta Incinerator at Rookery Pit Artist's Impression.

Covanta have announced that they’ll start building the controversial incinerator at Rookery Pit, just outside Stewartby, now that finances have been agreed. It’s expected to take about three years to complete.

Covanta and Green Investment Group Limited (GIG) will each own 40 percent of the facility, the remaining 20 percent will be owned by Veolia ES (UK) Limited.

Covanta say the Rookery Pit facility will provide 545,000 tonnes of annual treatment capacity for non- recyclable waste. This will support plans for the UK to achieve national self-sufficiency in managing waste and meet landfill diversion targets.

It’s hoped this will generate over 60 megawatts of electricity and power the equivalent of over 112,500 homes.

The incinerator will be fed by waste collected mostly by Veolia but will also take waste sourced from other contracts.

300 jobs and local supply chain opportunities will be created during the construction phase, with a commitment to use local companies for goods and services wherever possible.

Covanta CEO and President Stephen J. Jones said: “We are pleased to have reached this key milestone on the Rookery project, which is a major component of our UK development plan and the second of four initial projects to move forward with GIG.

“The Rookery project brings into full view the capabilities of our partnership with GIG and our commitment to the UK market, and we look forward to investing in the local community and serving the region with much-needed sustainable waste treatment.”

Ed Northam, Head of GIG Europe, added: “GIG and Covanta have an ambition to deliver a joint portfolio of world class waste management infrastructure that will reduce landfill, lower emissions, and transform two million tonnes of residual waste a year into heat and power for communities and industry across the UK.”

Veolia UK and Ireland, Gavin Graveson, Executive Vice-President also said: “Veolia is excited to play its part in this major infrastructure project of which we have now delivered 10 in the UK.”

Hitachi Zosen Inova will build the incinerator with Covanta providing technical oversight. They will also manage supply operations and maintenance services when it becomes operational in 2022.

Plans to use Rookery Pit as an incinerator have faced controversy since they were first mooted over ten years ago. The Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) group has campaigned to stop the plans being approved.

This led to various court cases to both block plans and also a Judicial Review in November 2018 against the Environment Agency’s permit for an incinerator on the site.

While the Judicial Review ruled in favour of the Environment Agency, BACI was earlier this year given permission to appeal.

A spokesperson for BACI said they will continue to fight the plans: “BACI is delighted that we have been granted permission to a full hearing at the Court of Appeal.

“BACI maintains that there continues to be a strong case against the environmental permit issued by the Environment Agency – and is further reassured by the decision of the Court of Appeal that the case needs further examination.”

Commenting on the appeal, Tom Koltis, Covanta’s Executive Director for the UK and Europe, said: “We remain confident in the Environment Agency’s position that the challenge to their well-founded permit application and evaluation processes is without merit, as was confirmed by the High Court ruling in November 2018.

“We are committed to being a good neighbour and we’ll continue to source local construction suppliers wherever possible to maximise the economic advantages for Bedfordshire’s residents and businesses.”