Plans have just been approved for the UK’s largest anaerobic digestion plant, to be built on the site of a former citric acid factory in Selby.
Planning permission for the Selby Renewable Energy Park was granted this week by North Yorkshire County Council. Once completed, the anaerobic plant is expected to generate 8 megawatts of energy, using some 165,000 tonnes of food waste — which would otherwise go to landfill — per year.
The facility will have a state-of-the-art pre-treatment hall that will allow all forms of packaged food waste from supermarkets, food processors, local authorities and caterers to be processed.
The £20 million project is expected to create 120 new jobs for the town, 40 directly and an additional 80 jobs indirectly. The plant will generate enough clean, renewable energy to power 10,800 homes for a year (or the whole of Selby), and will also provide a potential low-cost heat source for use by local businesses.
An anaerobic digester already exists on the site which is currently being updated and the proposal is to build two new anaerobic digesters. All the clean renewable electricity generated would be sent via the site’s existing power connection to the National Grid.
“Anaerobic digestion is widely recognised by the government, DEFRA and Friends of the Earth as one of the best solutions for disposing of food waste,” said Shaun Flynn, business development manager. “Everyone wins as the waste is treated in a sealed process reducing the generation of greenhouse gases and carbon emissions; a clean, renewable fuel is produced which can be used to create electricity and heat; and we are returning a green, sustainable fertiliser to the land which will in turn grow our crops for food.”
Construction of the plant is set to begin this September, with the facility expected to be fully operational in 2010.