Gent Fairhead & Co. Ltd was granted planning permission by Essex County Council in 2010 to build the Rivenhall Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF).
An environmental permit was also required before the site could be operated, this was issued by the Environment Agency in 2017.
The company’s permit variation application sought to change the existing conditions in order to allow a reduction in the height of the incinerator stack (chimney) from 58 metres to 35 metres.
In view of a lower stack, the application also sought to apply stricter limits on emissions of oxides of nitrogen (so called NOx), sulphur dioxide and lower limits for certain heavy metals compared to those currently stipulated in the permit.
In order to meet the stricter limits, the company’s application also proposed enhanced ways of reducing pollution and the impacts of it, known as pollution abatement.
After an initial phase of public consultation in early 2019, a second phase of consultation took place earlier this year which allowed members of the public the opportunity to comment on the Environment Agency’s proposed decision.
The Environment Agency has now decided to accept the company’s application and issue a permit variation notice.
The Environment Agency’s Frank Saunders said:
“Following detailed technical scrutiny of the proposals over the last 20 months, together with careful consideration of all received consultation responses, we have now decided to issue a permit variation.
“Our technical assessment concluded that the proposed design changes will deliver an equivalent level of environmental protection compared to the rigorous standards required under the current permit.
“We recognise that we are now allowing a stack height (35 metres) that we originally rejected in 2016.
“However, we believe that a lower stack is acceptable but only in conjunction with the significantly lower emission limits.
“We are also satisfied that the additional pollution control techniques proposed by the company will ensure that the stricter emission standards can be met in practice.
“Based on our detailed examination of air dispersion modelling, we believe the design changes will not result in any significant change to current local air quality and that no human health thresholds will be exceeded.
“As a result, we believe the design changes meet the legal requirement for Best Available Techniques.”