New plans for £200m Corby waste plant

The site of the proposed plant in red. Priors Hall and Corby Business Academy are under 2km from the site.
The site of the proposed plant in red. Priors Hall and Corby Business Academy are under 2km from the site.

Campaigners have vowed to fight new plans for a £200m energy recovery facility in Corby.

Consent to build a plant in Shelton Road using a gasification process was controversially granted by Northamptonshire County Council in 2016.

An artist's impression of the plant on the Corby Limited website.

An artist's impression of the plant on the Corby Limited website.

But no progress has been made and now the site owners, Corby Limited, say the financial landscape for such projects has changed. They are preparing to submit a new application using “tried and tested” combustion technology that uses more oxygen.

Local campaigner Lee Forster says the facility would produce syngas, a synthesis gas which is flammable, and would cause a danger to the town. He says believes the new plans will be worse for the environment than the original process was.

He said: “From the research we have been doing there has not been a successful waste plant in the UK or anywhere in Europe.

“It’s just not a successful operation. The production of syngas itself, although they have called it steam, is an explosive technology.

“There is a real concern that we’ll have two of these in the town with another facility in Gretton Brook Road already having planning permission as well.”

If approved the facility would treat up to 260,000 tonnes of household and commercial waste per year.

It would generate 23mW of electricity, which Corby Limited say is enough to meet the energy needs of most of Corby’s homes.

The proposed new energy recovery centre will feature a local heat and private wire network to provide “cheaper and more environmentally sustainable heat, cooling and electricity for local businesses and housing”.

Charlie Vavasour, spokesman for Corby Limited, said: “There is a shortage of operational waste treatment facilities in Northamptonshire.

“The Shelton Road site has already been granted planning permission for an energy recovery centre.

“This new application is proposing a tried and tested technology, used in many similar facilities across the UK, which will help solve the waste issue in the area as well as generate 23MW of clean, renewable energy, rather than relying on fossil fuel generation.”

The project will contribute hundreds of thousands of pounds each year in business rates to the local authority.

It will create more than 200 construction jobs and 25 permanent jobs when open, although Mr Forster said he believes this wouldn’t mean jobs for local people.

Mr Forster raised concerns that other sites in Weldon and Great Oakley had also been earmarked for combined heat and power facilities in the Northamptonshire Local Waste Plan.

He said he fears for the safety of the site with a worker killed at a waste facility in Antwerp in Belgium last year, urging people to visit Plume Plotter and UKWIN to see how such facilities could impact the environment.

Corby Limited’s website said their proven process is safely regulated.

The website said: “Northamptonshire currently disposes of 170,000 tonnes of residual household waste outside the county, resulting in additional costs and unnecessary lorry miles.

“This is in addition to the considerable amount of commercial and industrial waste that is exported.

“A significant portion of the fuel for the proposed facility comes from renewable organic material in waste, which if landfilled creates methane gas that is over 20 times worse than carbon dioxide in terms of climate change. “Our facility recovers it in a clean way, using a proven process which is all safely regulated by the UK Environment Agency.”

Corby Limited is a company based in Bath. Their director David Bramhill is also director of Union Jack Oil, which specialises in the extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas.

Mr Forster said: “Do we really want them in our town, next to a school and housing estate?

“Are they going to be fracking down the Wessie (West Glebe Park) next?

“To call themselves Corby Limited is just a bit strange.”

Ahead of the planning application, which is expected in spring this year, Corby Limited will be holding a public exhibition at the Stephenson Way Community Centre from 2pm to 7pm on Thursday, February 7.

Members of their project team will be on hand to answer any questions the public may have about the plans.

Mr Forster, who camped outside the Gretton Brook Road site in 2015 in protest over the decision, said he also plans to be at the event to speak to people there.

He said: “People can go there and listen to them and what they’re proposing.

“Then they can come and speak to us and we can tell them what we think of the proposal.”

For more information about the plans visit www.corbyrenewableenergy.com, call 0808 168 1678 or email info@corbyrenewableenergy.com.