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The Peterborough Renewable Energy Ltd (PREL)
response to Bridge Watch

Contrary to the impression generated by the newspapers, who like a story, Bridge Watch is not a campaigning group. Its stated aim is to make sure that the Parish Council considers all factors in relation to any issue it discusses. Consequently we are pleased that John Dickie of PREL has responded to the analysis of their planning document so that residents of Sutton Bridge can make up their own mind.

Apr 2 2010

The Parish Council has lodged a Holding Objection in relation to the siting of an ‘Energy Park’ in Sutton Bridge. In the lamentable continuing absence of detailed Parish Council comments on the 'Energy Park' issue Bridge Watch has the following comments to make about John Dickie's reply on the Bridge Watch Website which was posted ahead of the Parish Council meeting on the 16th March.

In his reply, John Dickie says that ‘It must be understood that (unlike ‘waste’) there are no ‘catchment area’ restrictions regarding the supply of fuel. We will source our fuel on a sequential test basis—in other words, the feedstock will originate from locations as close to the plant as possible in the first instance with supply sources radiating further out depending upon availability and other issues such as quality, calorific value, and cost...’

Bridge Watch: There’s a pretty clear indication here that there will not always be a steady supply of combustible material; that when the supply from near the plant dries up, it will come from further afield... In the Drax case they talked about getting wood from Canada. One has to wonder what good all this carting of things around the planet will do for it. Would it not be better and cheaper just to switch lights off all over the world?

John Dickie asserts that: ‘The question of ‘carbon footprints’ is not just a matter of looking at ‘fuel miles’ as this type of approach is way too simplistic...’

Bridge Watch: If feedstock comes from further away than from ‘locations close to the plant’ (how close? 30 miles?) then it will come by lorry—is this not ‘fuel miles’? In what way is this ‘simplistic’? More lorries clogging up the A17 and waiting to unload = more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The further they come the more petrol will be converted into carbon dioxide... Later John Dickie says that ‘on the subject of ‘fuel miles’, it should be noted that many of the UK’s coal fired power stations import most of their coal—some from as far away as Australia!’ Reprehensible, but one more wrong does not make a right, as they say.

It is impossible to give attention to ‘Green Energy Solutions’ without affecting everything else in the biosphere, in a chain-of-dominoes fashion. For instance, PREL talk about ‘wood fuel’ for the e.park coming from local farmers as specially grown crops. This means that land which is currently being used for food production will now be turned over to a heavy cash crop. More money for the farmer and the e.park, but less food for the nation, this in a time when food production needs to be increased world-wide.

John Dickie says that ‘the Drax situation is actually quite helpful for PREL as it means that there is likely to be a huge supply of UK biomass (mostly straw) that could be made available for the Sutton Bridge plant...’

Bridge Watch: What would have gone to Drax will come to Sutton Bridge; from the north that’s at least another 110 miles on top of whatever HGV’s would have done to get there... and then back... More and more and more ‘fuel miles’...

John Dickie: ‘What is certain is that the nature of biomass fuel characteristics will, in the future, change significantly as the market for this type of feedstock develops and matures. For instance, we are aware of developments involving ‘fast growing trees’ that could revolutionise so called ‘energy crops’—early days but it is clear that there will be multiple sources of biomass in future years that will help encourage the growth of renewable energy developments.

Bridge Watch: It would be interesting to know what the evidence is for this? The fact is that that currently all over the world ordinary normal trees, essential for life as we know it, are being cut down so that people can make a fast buck out of planting so-called ‘energy crops’. This is devastating for planetary survival. The planet will go on but human beings will become extinct.

John Dickie says that the PREL plant ‘will process between 250,000 and 300,000 tons of fuel per year. In the likely event that the quality/calorific value of fuel supplies is improved then this tonnage could decrease significantly.

Bridge Watch: One would like to know exactly how biomass can be improved. Biomass is surely biomass. In any case till then how many lorry loads a day? 7am to 7pm down an already congested road? The figures on this seem to keep changing. Two calculations can be taken from the Bridge Watch Website.

Whatever the figures, the question remains what about upkeep of the infrastructure and what about the listed buildings and their upkeep, especially the Bridge itself?

From BW Website:-
The ‘Energy Park’ is capable of handling 350,000 tons of ‘waste’ material (called ‘feedstock’ to make it sound grand) per annum = 960 tons a day which might come in 30-ton HGV’s. On our calculations, that’s 32 deliveries a day; 3 deliveries every hour; 1 every 20 minutes = an HGV movement (in/out) every ten minutes. What with traffic hold-ups, bridge closures, and holiday and rush-hour traffic, average HGV movement is very unlikely to be maintained with that degree of regularity. There is likely to be gridlock, not to mention the noise and pollution. And the HGV’s will not, of course, all go round the by-pass; unless an HGV ban is applied on Bridge Road there will be an increase of heavy traffic through the village, particularly if food waste comes from Premier Foods. There is some suggestion that PREL will monitor the situation but lorries coming from Premier Foods have a record of turning right instead of left to save petrol money.

Our calculations give a rather conservative estimate of lorry movements compared with PREL’s own: elsewhere in the PREL Report it suggests that there will be 80 deliveries a day (HGV & LGV) when/if the site becomes operational. That’s one delivery every 9 minutes or one vehicle movement (in and out) every 4½ minutes without counting unloading time. The Report rather optimistically concludes that, though traffic lights might be needed at the junction of Centenary Way and the A17, the proposed development ‘is not expected to place a significant additional load on the existing road network...’. An extraordinary statement.

John Dickie has said that the so-called ‘Enterprise Park’ is earmarked for industrial use and that therefore lorry movements would be large in any event. This is an unsound argument. You cannot argue over something that may happen—it may not happen. If anything ever goes on this sorely neglected site it might be quiet, unpolluting and without massive consequences for the road-system. Take a look at the Hardwick Estate in King’s Lynn which they more accurately called an ‘estate’ rather than a ‘park’.

John Dickie compares the projected plant at Peterborough with the Sutton Bridge proposal: ‘the former will process ‘waste’,’ he says, ‘the latter absolutely will not. There are many different definitions of what is and what isn’t ‘waste’ and lawyers up and down the land make much money from their clients in debating the matter. The only ‘waste’ that we would very much like to process using our Biotel aerobic digestion technology is local food waste...’

Bridge Watch: There seems to be some contradiction here:-

‘...our proposal for Sutton Bridge... absolutely will not [process waste]...’

V's

‘...The only ‘waste’ that we would very much like to process using our Biotel aerobic digestion technology is local food waste...’ coming from Premier Foods, no doubt, who can’t solve the smell problem at their own place

John Dickie says that ‘...if it turns out that this may cause our planning application to become a ‘County Matter’ then we will omit ANY reference to ‘waste from our eventual submission...’

Bridge Watch: Reference to ‘waste’ may be omitted from the submission but will the plant continue to make plans to use its ‘Biotel aerobic digestion technology’ at Sutton Bridge and still take ‘food waste’ from Premier Foods?

John Dickie says: ‘We are currently exploring a potential development opportunity in Spalding that would enable us to produce a bespoke biomass fuel product that would feed both Peterborough and Sutton Bridge. This is still very much a work in progress and is unlikely to be submitted for Planning Permission before the Sutton Bridge application.

Bridge Watch: So lorries with the ‘bespoke biomass fuel product’ on board will come from the west over the Bridge, which is a listed building, rather than from the east as PREL previously suggested it would...

A restriction should be demanded that will prevent ‘Energy Park’ lorries from using the bridge at all.


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Mar 16 2010

The Sutton Bridge EnergyPark

Notes for Bridgewatch March 14th 2010
Author John Dickie

The update on the 22nd of February 2010 discusses the Drax biomass proposals. Our understanding is that Drax have abandoned their Biomass projects because, quite simply, coal is a cheaper fuel! I am unclear what point is being made in the context of the update narrative but concerns would seem to centre around ‘fuel miles’ and our potential ‘carbon footprint’.

I would like to make a couple of points on this subject and will be happy to discuss further at the forthcoming Parish Council meeting and any future meetings/consultations. Firstly, it must be understood that (unlike ‘waste’) there are no ‘catchment area’ restrictions regarding the supply of fuel. We will source our fuel on a sequential test basis - in other words, the feedstock will originate from locations as close to the plant as possible in the first instance with supply sources radiating further out depending upon availability and other issues such as quality, calorific value, and cost. The question of ‘carbon footprints’ is not just a matter of looking at ‘fuel miles’ as this type of approach is way too simplistic - we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and will always seek to procure fuel from the most sustainable and indeed ethical sources.

The Drax situation is actually quite helpful for PREL as it means that there is likely to be a huge supply of UK biomass (mostly straw) that could be made available for the Sutton Bridge plant. What is certain is that the nature of biomass fuel characteristics will, in the future, change significantly as the market for this type of feedstock develops and matures. For instance, we are aware of developments involving ‘fast growing trees’ that could revolutionise so called ‘energy crops’ - early days but it is clear that there will be multiple sources of biomass in future years that will help encourage the growth of renewable energy developments.

As a company, we will quite soon commence an R & D programme to investigate ‘growing our own biomass’ by creating an algae based fuel using sequestered C02 flue gases combined with our ash residue and waste heat. There are a great many other initiatives that we will continue to track and evaluate and it may well be that case that, by the time the Sutton Bridge EnergyPark could be commissioned, there will be a great many more alternative fuels available to us. On the subject of ‘fuel miles’, it should be noted that many of the UK’s coal fired power stations import most of their coal - some from as far away as Australia!

Whilst we continue to develop our proposals, we are settled on a facility that will have an installed electrical generating capacity of some 48 MW. Based upon what know about the current availability of biomass fuels and their quality, the plant will process between 250,000 and 300,000 tons of fuel per year. In the likely event that the quality/calorific value of fuel supplies is improved then this tonnage could decrease significantly.

The update on the 6thMarch refers to comments from Mary Edwards of Friends of the Earth. At the time of writing I have yet to speak to Mary on the question of her ‘quotation’ in my briefing note despite my best efforts to talk to her. In the event that she is uncomfortable with the quotation then I shall withdraw the reference.

There seems to be some confusion here regarding the very nature of the Sutton Bridge proposal and I would like to take this opportunity to clear up certain matters. Our consented plant at Peterborough is quite different to our proposal for Sutton Bridge as the former will process ‘waste’ and the latter absolutely will not. There are many different definitions of what is and what isn’t ‘waste’ and lawyers up and down the land make much money from their clients in debating the matter. The only ‘waste’ that we would very much like to process using our Biotel aerobic digestion technology is local food waste but if it turns out that this may cause our planning application to become a ‘County Matter’ then we will omit ANY reference to ‘waste’ from our eventual submission.

Depending upon further discussions with the planners at Local and County level, our EIA based Planning Application will be 100% clear on the type of fuel proposed and the energy conversion technology that we will be using. Whatever the eventual technical detailing, one thing is quite clear - we will NOT be combusting waste at Sutton Bridge.

We are currently exploring a potential development opportunity in Spalding that would enable us to produce a bespoke biomass fuel product that would feed both Peterborough and Sutton Bridge. This is still very much a work in progress and is unlikely to be submitted for Planning Permission before the Sutton Bridge application.

I hope that this brief commentary is helpful and welcome the opportunity for continued debate and discourse.

John Dickie
Director of Planning and Development
Peterborough Renewable Energy Limited


Mar 6 2010

Subsequent to posting PREL's response, Bridge Watch contacted Mary Edwards of Friends of the Earth.

Another thing to take into account in what is a rather complex issue, is that PREL's answer to Global Warming is not perhaps quite the 'Magic Wand' that is suggested here...

Mary Edwards explained that she has supported some aspects of the PREL installation in Peterborough. These include the fact that they will only be taking residual waste and not waste that can be recycled, that there is good recovery of metals and glass and that they’re exploring the possibility of using renewable energy sources to run their plant. Several of these innovations have come about because of dialogue between the company and Mary. However, she does not support the large size of the plant, nor the increased area from which it will draw waste. Also, if the installation becomes dependent on a commercial waste stream, then it will be using material that Friends of the Earth says should be reused/recycled first.

Mary has done many interviews on this subject, so it may be that she has been quoted out of context.


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PREL Energy Park Sutton Bridge logo

Some notes from Peterborough Renewable Energy for Bridge Watch

January 2010

Document prepared by John Dickie

PREL Director of Planning and Development

Following an invitation from Bridge Watch, this brief document is a response to the comments and observations made on the Bridge Watch website in December 2009 - article title The Proposed ‘Energy park’ Complex at Sutton Bridge.

At the time of writing, PREL has not received the ‘Scoping Response’ from SHDC and so the detailed content of this document is limited. We do know, however, that part of the pre-planning consultation response confirms that our Planning Application will have to incorporate an Environmental Impact Assessment - the work required to prepare a detailed and comprehensive EIA is considerable and the requisite work is now underway.

We are also continuing to improve and develop the design and specification of the proposed facility and these changes will result in further formal and informal public presentations over the coming months. The nature and content of the eventual Planning Application will, therefore, not include anything that hasn’t already been seen during our public consultation process - in other words there will be no ‘surprises’.

If anyone wishes to see what an EIA looks like then please look at our website www.prelonline.co.uk where our entire Planning Submission for the recently consented Peterborough EnergyPark can be downloaded.

The purpose of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is to provide adequate environmental information to enable all stakeholders to understand the potential environmental effects of a project.

The EIA identifies and assesses the potential environmental impacts associated with the construction and operation of the proposed development. The assessment and potential
environmental impacts are recorded in an Environmental Statement (ES). For each potential impact, the ES considers the 'worst case'. This ensures that the development possibilities and environmental scenarios likely to cause the greatest environmental impact are taken into account for every aspect of the project. This process defines clearly the potential boundaries of the development and describes the maximum possible impact.

An EIA is a very detailed and comprehensive document - as an example, the Peterborough EIA based Planning Application ran to over 1200 pages.

The design of the proposed EnergyPark has been considered carefully to resolve key areas of environmental sensitivity and impact. The potential impacts of the proposed EnergyPark during construction and operation have been assessed in relation to the following impacts:

The December Bridge Watch article says that ‘there is plenty of evidence that suggests that these kinds of developments are forced through against strong public opposition’. This is a somewhat sweeping statement and since nothing specific is mentioned it would seem difficult for me to make much meaningful comment. What I can say is that we certainly don’t ‘force’ anything if there is local resistance - for example, our approved project at Peterborough attracted 23 letters of objection and 44 letters in support including Friends of the Earth. All statutory consultees supported our proposal and the application was supported at Full Council and approved unanimously at Cabinet. Mary Edwards (FOE Campaigns Coordinator) described the proposal as 'the nearest thing to a magic wand solution that she has heard of' - praise indeed.

As I said to many people at our Public presentation at the Sutton Bridge school, if we ever felt that we didn’t have the overwhelming support of the local community then we would withdraw.

There are some comments in the first few pages of the Website article that refer to the site description and the surrounding area. What must be understood is that the entire site in question is already allocated in the Local Plan for industrial use as is a further 40 + acres alongside. It is clear, therefore, that a variety of industrial developments and processes could be properly supported on the site - just last year a Spanish glass fibre manufacturer expressed an serious interest in developing the entire 40 + acres alongside our site. Ironically, it was the lack of available electricity that eventually directed them to a location further up the coast. The point I am making is that the ‘zoning’ of the land for industrial development means that some form of industry should be anticipated.

Reference is made in the article to the proposed community cohesion fund that the development would enable. Energy Park Sutton Bridge will, through a Social Responsibility Committee, create an annual £300,000 community fund. The fund is to be used to support community cohesion across the local area - the extent of the geographical area is up for discussion and agreement. The committee will consist of representatives from local community groups, local businesses, the Local Authority and Board Members from EPSB to oversee the environmental aspects of the energypark’s construction and operation and administer the fund. We will ensure that there will be representation from a large
cross section of the community.

Further direct and indirect benefits to the community will be made possible by the proposed development on the site (alongside the Administrative Building) of a structure that will be used as a Visitors Centre and ‘Exposition Facility’ for environmental technologies developed by the PREL/EPSB and other local ‘environmental sector’ companies. This facility will also be made available for school and community uses that are related to environmental issues. The design for this facility is, like the main ‘process buildings’, innovative and we will be in a position to present details in a few weeks time.

Mention is made of the ‘private electrical network’. Given the very nature of electrical distribution (and Heat), it is extremely unlikely that we would supply any direct power for Sutton Bridge - what we will seek to provide is CHP for both the existing Winglands industry and any new developments on the surrounding allocated land. Most of the green energy generated would be bound for the National Grid.

Any land that could be utilised for future expansion is already allocated for industrial development and would, of course, be subject to normal Planning and Environmental controls - all of which would take proper account of issues such as traffic and emissions.

The observations on traffic impacts are noted. Our Highways Consultants are currently developing a detailed Transport Assessment and Travel Plan Strategy using the following methods :

The following policies will be consulted during the production of the TA:

The following guidance documents will be consulted and used during the production of the TA:

The following guidance documents will be consulted and used during the production of the TA:

All of this captured data (+ much more) in concert with discussions at Local Authority and County level (we will also take into account local community views) will be used to develop acceptable transportation solutions which will form part and parcel of the Planning Application. Instinct tells me that we may well end up proposing traffic lights at the staggered junction of Centenary Way and the A17 in order that vehicular access to and from the EnergyPark is both safe and allows for the least possible impact on the highway infrastructure. We had originally considered the development of a roundabout but this would seem to be impractical given the prevailing highway geometry. Believe it or not, the existing access is such that we could technically justify our development without any highway upgrades - having said that, we can see that there are ingress and egress issues even now and are happy to help resolve them.

Given the extant Local Plan Land Use, there are a great many other forms of industrial development that could be supported (in a planning context) that would have a far greater impact on traffic movements than our EnergyPark proposal. Our studies on the availability of feedstock supplies indicate that the majority of vehicles would flow from the East and not over the swing bridge.

“Travel by water” has not been ‘quietly slipped’ into the Scoping Report as suggested! We are properly and thoroughly investigating the potential for using the River Nene as a supply route for biomass fuels from the South of the EnergyPark - to this end, we are in discussions with the Wisbech Port Authority and others. We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and it should be self evident that water borne transportation can be far more ‘sustainable’ than say the use of road going vehicles.

I don’t understand the comment in your article about ‘developers exaggerating the amount of quantities of waste’ - first of all, we aren’t proposing to use ‘waste’ for energy conversion and secondly, we would hardly build a facility that could run short of a feedstock supply - the project has to be financially viable.

We will secure our biomass fuel from a variety of sources and are entirely satisfied that we will not run short.

Your stated concerns about emissions are well understood and I would take this opportunity of explaining more about our process. We are not proposing to burn waste but biomass fuels - we operate under a Waste Incineration Directive Licence as this is the most stringent - our aim is to get all power stations to operate at these strict emission standards - your domestic boiler would fail!

We will use Gortex sub 1 micron bags so that you will not be "invaded by carcinogenic nano-particles of dioxin” as has been suggested. Bear in mind that in order to qualify for a Renewables Obligation Credit (a financial incentive to generate genuine renewable energy) it is a pre-requisite that we combust a clean biomass fuel and not ‘waste’ - this enables us to much more easily control the outputs from our stacks than a conventional ‘mass burn incinerator’.

Have a look at the animation link on our website as it deals with emissions in a fairly clear manner.

Your comments that infer that there are no emission controls in place at ‘start up and close down’ are entirely wrong.

Cherry picking what you think is helpful from www.ukwin.org.uk is all very well but please determine the facts first - the main one being that WE ARE NOT AN INCINERATOR.

There seems to be a perception difficulty over what an EnergyPark actually does. It is really just a biomass power station that combusts clean fuel - just like a large straw/wood burner really but using gasification and not incineration. As I have said, the fuel used has to be clean biomass under the Renewables Obligation legislation otherwise the electricity generated will not qualify for ROCs and the business model is compromised. A typical 'mass burn incinerator' (and there are still many being proposed and built) will NOT qualify for a ROC because they are burning waste and not clean biomass or ‘renewable fuel’. The 'cleanliness' of the fuel is strictly monitored by government agencies through regular and stringent testing of samples.

The plant and equipment for Sutton Bridge is the same as specified for Peterborough where the Local Authority, DECC and all other statutory consultees found our acoustic mitigation proposals to be entirely acceptable. You might think that an operating plant such as this will be overly noisy but it will be subjected to stringent and wholly enforceable constraints that will ensure that it is a perfectly acceptable neighbour. The same applies to light pollution and vibration and odours and dust et al.

The website expresses concern about fly ash. Any hazardous fly ash produced as a result of the combustion process (and there will be some) will be both contained and processed in situ and NOT sent to a hazardous landfill site as is usually the case. We will incorporate a ‘plasma melt’ within the EnergyPark which will convert the ash into a safe building product. Full details will be submitted and further information can be viewed on the website - Peterborough Planning Application data. In order to properly understand how 'Plasma' technology is proposed for the Sutton Bridge EnergyPark, reference should be made to the PREL website - www.prel-online.co.uk/parkbenefits.html &


Prel Online presents "Pete & The Brain",
a short animation which gives a brief explaination about our attempts
to make recycling and production of renewable energy a daily part of our lives.

and that of the technology supplier - www.tetronics.com

One of the problems we regularly encounter here in the UK is that in the latter part of the 20th century there existed a plethora of dirty mass burn waste combustors that you really wouldn't want to be near - the term 'incineration' then became high jacked and distorted. The Europe wide controls (enforced in the UK by the Environment Agency) are incredibly strict and prevent the type of pollution that used to be encountered - the overriding legislation is WID (the Waste Incineration Directive) - see above.

The proposal, therefore, has the capability both to create renewable energy through the combustion of biomass. It creates a range of saleable products from the output of the plasma vitrification process and in so doing avoids the creation of any residual waste. Uniquely, there will therefore be no landfill requirement arising from the operation of this facility. Wherever we look to develop, the very first ‘engagement’ is with the local community - hence our initial public presentation at the school in the Spring of last year. Despite the size of Sutton Bridge, I can report that we had more responses from that first event than for virtually the entire timeframe for the Peterborough project! We are extremely pleased with this level of interest as it means that we have the opportunity to project our message to a great many people.

The fact is that our process isn’t just clean, it creates genuine permanent employment opportunities, ‘spin off’ support for the local economy, green renewable energy along with a massive saving in CO2 emissions. As the UK - and indeed the world - makes the transition to a low carbon economy, developments such as this are, in our view, right for climate change, right for energy security, right for jobs and right for Sutton Bridge. As a matter of principal, we recognise that organisations like ours have work in concert with communities because only by working together can we create a more secure, more prosperous low carbon Britain and a world that is sustainable for future generations.

John Dickie M.I.A.S., M.B.Eng

Peterborough Renewable Energy Limited
Office : 01733 348468 & 01778 560811
Mobile : 07778 297733

Eco Innovation Centre
Peterscourt
City Road
Peterborough
PE1 1SA
T 01733 348468

Engineering Office
Midas Building Unit A
Roundhouse Close
Peterborough PE1 5TA


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