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Nottinghamshire County Council - Proud of our past, ambitious for our future

PFI Frequently Asked Questions

What is the new waste contract for?

The contract is for dealing with the majority of household waste produced by residents in Nottinghamshire. It will cover:

  • Management of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs)
  • The household waste collected by Districts and Borough Councils, whether it is for recycling, composting, recovery or disposal
  • It does not cover the operation of the existing Eastcroft Energy from Waste plant.

Businesses are responsible for dealing with their own waste.

Who is the new contractor that will implement the Integrated Waste Management Contract?

Veolia Environmental Services (website: www.veoliaenvironnement.com) was chosen as the contractor to work with us on our new Integrated Waste Management contract. This means that as of June 2006 Veolia Environmental Services has been responsible for managing waste facilities on behalf of the County Council.

Why can't we just continue dealing with waste in the way we do now?

To date we have depended heavily on landfill for disposal. This is at the bottom of the Government's waste hierarchy and is the least sustainable environmental option. It is now a Government requirement that we reduce the amount of waste that goes straight to landfill and we will be penalised for not meeting our targets with a fine of £150 per tonne.

How will residents have their say about waste facilities proposed near them?

Veolia Environmental Services are working closely with the County Council to decide where new waste facilities will be located. Each new facility will be subject to the usual planning application process which requires the involvement of a number of statutory consultees.

Additionally, Veolia Environmental Services will, where relevant, involve local people in the development of new facilities in their area through:

  • the planning process
  • the public consultation process
  • road shows and
  • information prepared for the public about new developments.

Is the contract in line with the County Councils Municipal Waste Management Strategy?

Yes. Part one of the Strategy focused on the implementation of Twin Bin collection systems by the District/Borough Councils and this has now been achieved, but the contract develops the next phases of that process.

What about the costs of this contract?

Unfortunately, waste management is an expensive business. We have already said that we cannot simply continue to dispose of our waste as we do now, and we are keen to reduce the amount of waste we produce, and recycle more. Recycling and recovery are expensive, With Landfill Tax increasing at £8 per tonne per year it will only get more expensive. This contract identifies how we can deal with our waste in the future - if we don't plan for this now the environmental impact and the costs will be even greater. This contract provides value for money for residents.

How will the Council pay for the contract?

The Council has been awarded a PFI credit award for £38m. The need for additional funding has been recognised in the Authority’s medium term financial strategy. Budgets will be reviewed on an annual basis as part of the Authority’s budget setting process.

Why is the contract over 26 years?

This allows both the Council and the contractor to spread the repayment of the large investment costs over a long period of time.

What happens if new solutions are found for dealing with waste over this period?

The contract is flexible and will allow the contractor to take advantage of the best technology available during the life of the contract.

Has the contractor's solution been independently assessed?

The contract uses a balance of solutions and rewards high recycling and recovery rates. The Council commissioned an independent report which looked at five possible options of dealing with our waste. The proposal from Veolia Environmental Services was demonstrated as the best practicable environmental option.

What will Veolia Environmental Services do?

Veolia Environmental Services is helping Nottinghamshire County Council to manage its waste for the next 26 years. To manage waste in an environmentally sound and efficient way that meets legislation, Veolia Environmental Services will put the following actions into practice:

  • Encourage waste reduction through education
  • Assist the council to increase recycling and composting rates to 52 percent by 2020
  • Improve Household Waste Recycling Centres in the county
  • Build a Material Recovery Facility to sort recyclable material collected from households
  • Establish a composting facility to recycle garden waste
  • Build an Energy Recovery Facility to incinerate Approximately 180,000 tonnes of waste a year. The facility will produce up to 15MW of electrical energy, enough to power up to 15,000 homes
  • Significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

Why do we need to work towards recycling targets?

Our current recycling targets set by Central Government and the Landfill Directive targets are set by European legislation. Therefore it is mandatory that we achieve these targets or we could be penalised by extremely high fines for breaking the law. The targets set in the contract for recycling currently exceed current UK national targets. Landfill Diversion achieved by the contract will also exceed the EU target.

Won't the new proposals increase traffic on the roads?

Through the waste contract if we take into consideration the whole of Nottinghamshire there will be fewer lorry movements due to the use of more localised waste management facilities and supporting waste transfer stations. Waste Transfer Stations are facilities where the household waste trucks deliver the rubbish to be bulked up for onward transport on larger lorries for delivery to recycling centres or for disposal.

What about other risks in the contract?

All the risks in areas such as design, construction and operation of facilities is accepted by Veolia Environmental Services. The Council and the company will share the risks involved in securing sites and planning.

What will the public notice in the contract?

Already most of the households in the County have a twin bin system, some have three bins. The aim is to have all households in the County on a three bin system as soon as possible. There will also be improvements carried out at the Household Waste Recycling Centres.

What is an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF)?

An Energy Recovery Facility provides a means of processing waste by using thermal treatment. In Nottinghamshire it will be part of the integrated waste management system. Waste is delivered to a bunker where it feeds into a furnace to be burnt at temperatures in excess of 850 degrees centigrade. Energy is recovered from this process in the form of steam to produce electricity and heat. The benefits of energy recovery are

  • Avoidance of landfill disposal and associated greenhouse gas production
  • Volume of waste is significantly reduced (by 70 percent)
  • This technology is proven to deliver sustainable waste management when delivered as part of an integrated approach
  • Energy generated from the process is fed into the national grid, providing heat and light. Energy generated in this way avoids the need to use precious fossil fuels such as coal and gas.

Why do we need an Energy Recovery Facility as part of the new contract?

The Energy Recovery Facility is part of Veolia Environmental Service’s integrated proposals for long term management of household and municipal waste in Nottinghamshire. There are many reasons why Energy Recovery is required as shown below:

  • To meet recovery targets set by the Government for an integrated waste management approach in line with the “waste hierarchy”
  • To relieve pressure on landfill space and meet Government legislation to reduce reliance on landfill as set out in the Landfill Directive
  • To deal with the non-recyclable fraction of waste arising in the county
  • To produce more electricity for the National Grid reducing fossil fuel use.

How much waste can be sent to the Energy Recovery Facility in one year?

The new facility will be designed to handle up to 180,000 tonnes of waste per year.

Who uses the energy produced at the Energy Recovery Facility?

The electricity generated at the facility is sold to the National Grid and it is also used to power the site.

When will the new Energy Recovery Facility be built?

The development of the facility is dependent on gaining the necessary planning and operating permits following which construction will commence.

How can we be sure that the facility is meeting environmental guidelines?

All Energy Recovery Facilities have to operate to strict environmental guidelines. Operators are monitored by the Environment Agency and reports detailing the performance of each facility are available on a public register.

Pollution Prevention Control systems installed allow the operators to monitor how well the facility is performing and to ensure that emissions are kept below permitted limits.

Shouldn't all incinerators be closed down?

The Government believes that the recovery of energy from waste by using it as a fuel to generate heat and power has a vital role to play alongside recycling and composting within a system of sustainable waste management.

This approach is widely adopted throughout Europe and it is a proven, environmentally responsible and beneficial method for recovering solid waste.

Energy Recovery Facilities generate electricity, which can be produced with less environmental impact than the equivalent at a coal-fired power station.

Is it true that incineration transforms waste material into ash and small particles that contaminate the environment?

Energy Recovery Facility produce incinerator bottom ash, which is either recycled as a construction material or landfilled under very strict regulatory conditions and monitored regularly by the Environment Agency.

Bottom ash from modern Energy Recovery Facilities is widely used throughout Europe and Scandinavia as a secondary aggregate in road construction and the building industry.

What are dioxins?

Dioxins are created in minute quantities by all combustion processes, including cars, power stations, steel processing etc. Energy Recovery Facilities operating to the standards currently required are not a significant source.

Why will the capacity of the new Energy Recovery Facility be so large?

Space for landfill in the area is limited and many of the existing landfill sites will be full in the next few years. Therefore the new incinerator must have the capacity to deal with all the household waste in the county.

The size of the Energy Recovery Facility has been calculated after estimating the likely waste arising and levels of increased recycling and a need to divert as much waste as possible from landfill.

What is there to stop the Contractor importing waste from other areas for incineration, or to reduce recycling to feed the incinerator?

The plant proposed in the greater Mansfield and Ashfield area is of a size to deal only with waste produced in the County after we recycle and compost over half of the waste.

Why hasn't the Contractor specified anaerobic digestion instead of incineration?

The technology associated with anaerobic digestion is still being developed and at present only gives 20 percent recovery rates (incineration gives approx 70 percent recovery), so opting for anaerobic digestion would mean more waste would be sent to landfill.

What about the effects of a Energy Recovery Facility on Health?

In September 2009, research by the research UK Health Protection Agency concluded that “incinerators are well run and regulated and do not pose a significant threat to public health.

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