Jane Hutt Encourages Residents to Respond to Consultation on Application by Biomass UK No 2 Ltd

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As the Vale AM, Jane Hutt has submitted multiple objections to the Barry Biomass development since it was first proposed around 8 years ago,  and is again submitting her objections on the environmental permit application by Biomass UK No 2 Ltd. (NB Deadline May 8th)

 In response to concerns raised by local residents, Jane Hutt also chaired a public meeting in Castleland Community Centre in February, and invited Natural Resources Wales (the permitting authority) to answer questions from the public.  These questions covered a wide variety of issues such as pollution, planning process and risk fears.  Jane said:

“I have supported residents every step of the way since the original application was proposed 8 years ago – submitting objections to the multiple planning applications associated with this development.  I recently chaired a public meeting (minutes below) on this issue and arranged for NRW to attend,  in order to directly answer the many questions that the public rightly have about this development.  Following my meeting, I arranged for copies of the environmental permit application consultation to be available at Barry Library. 

Residents can also contact NRW directly with their views      permittingconsultations@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk   

MINUTES OF A PUBLIC MEETING HELD IN THE CAMELOT ROOM, CASTLELAND COMMUNITY CENTRE, BELVEDERE CRESCENT, BARRY CF63 4JZ ON MONDAY 13th FEBRUARY 2017 AT 6.30PM

 SUBJECT;   CONSULTATION ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL PERMIT APPLICATION BY BIOMASS UK NO.2 LTD; PRESENTATION BY NATURAL RESOURCES WALES

THE MEETING WAS ORGANISED BY JANE HUTT AM AND COUNCILLOR PAMELA DRAKE

Present: – 

ORGANISERS (Alphabetical order)
 
Councillor Pamela Drake Vale of Glamorgan Councillor for the Castleland Ward
Jane Hutt AM Member of the National Assembly for Wales; Vale of Glamorgan
Ian McGill Minutes Secretary
NATURAL RESOURCES WALES

(Alphabetical order)

Caitriona Harvey Industry and Waste Regulation Team Leader; Natural Resources Wales
Anna Lewis Principal Permitting Officer; Natural Resources Wales
Nadia De Longhi Operations Manager; Natural Resources Wales
IN ATTENDANCE 49 people registered their attendance.

 Apologies

None

ITEM DISCUSSION
3.      WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION  

3.1.        Jane Hutt AM (JH) welcomed the meeting to Castleland Community Centre

3.2.        JH indicated that an attendance register was being circulated.

3.3.        JH introduced herself and Councillor Pam Drake.

3.4.        JH confirmed that Ian McGill would take the minutes of the meeting.

3.5.        JH also introduced the 3 Senior Managers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

3.6.        The format for the evening will be presentations by the 3 NRW Officers followed by a Question and Answer session.

4.      PRESENTATION BY NADIA DE LONGHI (NDL); OPERATIONS MANAGER, NATURAL RESOURCES WALES  

4.1.        Nadia thanked the meeting for the opportunity to address residents and welcomed the high level of attendance.

4.2.        The purpose of the briefing and Q/A session this evening is to set out the Permitting Process and the legal context within which NRW works.

4.3.        NDL drew attention to the summary of the application (including maps as circulated with the agenda this evening).

4.4.        Two copies of the full application were placed on a table for inspection during or after the meeting.

4.5.        Key points: –

4.5.1.   The Permitting process is carried out in accordance with the Environmental Permitting Regulations by the NRW Installations Permitting team in Cardiff (Anna).  Anna works closely with the Operational teams (Nadia and Caitriona).  The Operational Teams will regulate the facility if a permit is granted.

4.5.2.   The application was “duly made” on 21 November 2016. There is a 4-month statutory determination period for this kind of application, but this is extended if NRW make further requests for information from the applicant. The planned determination date is currently 8 May.

4.5.3.   NRW’s role is to examine the application and decide to either issue a permit or refuse the application. NRW is legally obliged to issue a permit if the operator can show that they can meet all the legal, environmental, technological and health requirements of our laws

4.5.4.   NRW can only refuse within the boundaries of those legal requirements.  For example, NRW cannot refuse just because of local opposition.  However, all representations are carefully considered.

4.5.5.   There is a formal period of consultation where the application is advertised on the NRW website and external consultees (such as the Local Health Board) are contacted for their input.  The process is open for anyone to make relevant representations at any point up until the draft decision.

4.5.6.   The meeting this evening provides an opportunity to do that.  NRW can be contacted with further representations after this evening (Secretary’s Note – see contact details at Appendix 1. at the end of these minutes).

4.5.7.   If NRW is inclined to grant a permit, then there is also a further stage of advertising the draft decision, and draft permit conditions, on the NRW website.

4.5.8.   This evening’s meeting is specifically about the application for an environmental permit.

4.5.9.   The site already has planning permission granted by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the NRW consultation does not reopen matters dealt with at the planning stage (and which are beyond the scope of the Environmental Permitting Regulations; for example; Location; Size; Operational hours; Transport and access issues).

4.5.10.Comments on the operational management within the proposal are welcome.  These include; waste handling and storage; control of emissions; odour; environmental monitoring; residual wastes; health and environmental impacts.

 
5. PRESENTATION BY ANNA LEWIS; PRINCIPAL PERMITTING OFFICER (NRW)  

5.1.        Anna Lewis addressed the meeting.

5.2.        TECHNICALITIES; Key points;

5.2.1.   The proposed facility will use waste wood to generate up to 10MWe of electricity for export to the National Grid.

5.2.2.   The proposed plant would accept 86,400 tonnes per year of mixed waste wood, which would arrive on site in a pre-prepared, shredded format. All waste wood would be non-hazardous in nature. The applicant is proposing to deliver the waste wood feedstock to site by lorry. The waste wood is delivered to a fuel bunker and from here it is fed onto a fuel conveyor which delivers fuel to the Advanced Thermal Treatment (or “Gasification”) process.  The entire process will take place inside a building.

5.2.3.   Gasification works by reacting the waste wood at high temperature (>700̊C) inside a sealed vessel without combusting the wood and with a controlled amount of oxygen available. This reaction causes a “synthesis gas” or “Syngas” to be produced from the wood, which is drawn from the gasifier and burned as fuel in order to heat water in a boiler which will generate super-heated steam. The steam will drive a steam turbine which will in turn generate the electricity.  After passing through the steam turbine, the steam will be fed into an air-cooled condenser which will cool the exhaust steam back to water for re-use by the boiler.

5.2.4.   Main releases from the process would be emissions to air from a single chimney, comprising cleaned combustion gases. Fly ash and air pollution control residues (release of fine ash from gasifier and techniques used to control emissions to air) will be removed by bag filters for offsite disposal. Bottom ash (larger ash particles comprising the reacted waste wood which sits on the gasifier bed) will be recirculated within the gasifier bed prior to being rejected as fly ash, with the bed being replaced every 4 years. The air pollution control residues and fly ash will be stored in dedicated hoppers and taken off site in covered vehicles for reprocessing as gypsum replacement, aggregates or final disposal. All process effluents (such as boiler purge water) will be discharged to sewer under the terms of a trade effluent discharge consent from Welsh Water.  There will be no releases to water apart from clean rainwater run-off from roof tops, roads and car parking areas.

5.2.5.   NRW will only allow a permit to be granted if it is satisfied that the proposed facility will not harm the health of residents or damage the environment.  NRW is now carrying out an in-depth assessment to decide if this will be the case.

5.2.6.   As part of its assessment, NRW will be considering various documents which have been submitted by the applicant (as part of their application) including:

·         Assessment of the impact on health and habitats;

·         Noise impact assessment;

·         Proposed environmental management system

5.2.7.   The applicant must demonstrate that the technology they are using and their operating (control) techniques are in line with Best Available Techniques for the sector. They must also show that they can meet stringent emission limits for this type of plant that are prescribed in the Industrial Emissions Directive, from which are derived the Environmental Permitting Regulations in Wales and England.  NRW will be the environmental regulator if a permit is granted and the facility is constructed and becomes operational.

5.3.        REGULATION; Key Points;

5.3.1     NRW’s role is to examine Biomass UK No. 2 Ltd. environmental permit application and to decide whether to grant a permit or refuse the application.

5.3.2     NRW is legally obliged to grant a permit if a business can show that the site meets all the legal, environmental, technological and health requirements of UK and European law.

5.3.3     Decisions to grant or refuse a permit are defined by legal requirements and NRW is required to justify this decision within the confines of these legal limitations.

5.3.4     For example, it would not be appropriate to refuse the permit simply because there was local opposition to the activity being carried out at this location. However, all relevant information that is raised through this consultation is carefully considered.

5.3.5     NRW will only grant a permit if it believes that significant pollution will not be caused and the applicant can meet the conditions of the permit.

5.3.6     All permits include conditions to protect human health and the environment.

5.3.7     Issues that can be considered include the following;

 

(i)            General operational management of the proposed facility

(ii)          Handling and storing of incoming waste

(iii)         Efficient use of raw materials, water and energy

(iv)         Control of odour, noise, litter and vermin

(v)          Control of emissions to the environment to permitted limits

(vi)         Monitoring of the gasification process to agreed procedures

(vii)        Monitoring of emissions to the environment to agreed standards

(viii)      Control of handling and storage of residual wastes from the process

(ix)         Potential impacts on health and the local environment

(x)          Any local factors that you believe the applicant has not considered in its permit application

 

5.3.8.   Issues that cannot be considered (because they are beyond the scope of the Environmental Permitting Regulations) include;

 

(i)            whether the proposed gasification plant would be best turned into an alternative technique for dealing with waste (e.g. a sorting and recycling proposal)

(ii)          alternative locations and size for this proposed facility

(iii)         operational hours

(iv)         the transport of waste to and from the site

(v)          how much waste is used and where it comes from

(vi)         whether a site should have a formal designation under conservation legislation

6. UPDATE BY CAITRIONA HARVEY (CH); INDUSTRY AND WASTE REGULATION TEAM LEADER (NRW)

 

6.1.        CH introduced herself as the principal officer in charge of the team that will eventually (should the permit be granted) regulate the company’s activities.

6.2.        (Secretary’s note; CH elaborated on her role during the Q&A session which followed).

7. INTERIM UPDATE BY JH

 

7.1.        JH thanked the NRW Officers for their respective presentations.

7.2.        JH asked NDL to clarify precisely what is meant by the period of consultation.

7.3.        NDL indicated that this evening’s public meeting represents the start of the public consultation exercise.  The provisional deadline is 8th May (as discussed) with a possible extension dependent upon further work and/or enquiries that need to be made before the final draft decision.

 

7.4.        JH identified 2 very definite points to be considered; viz.

 

7.4.1.   What is the potential damage to the environment?

7.4.2.   What is the potential damage to the community?

 

7.5.        JH wanted to be very clear to the meeting as to the responses by the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Public Health Wales.  NDL confirmed that a joint response had already been received.

7.6.        It was also established that the Vale of Glamorgan Council had submitted a formal response to the consultation.

7.7.        As stated, we have until 8th May to respond.  This deadline may be extended by NRW should enquiries, representations or additional information need to be considered. Furthermore, if NRW is inclined to grant a permit, then there is also a further stage of advertising and opportunity for comment.

8. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

 

8.1.        JH invited questions from the floor of the meeting.

8.2.        Question 1;

(i)            How certain can you be that the wood that is burned through the plant is clean and free from carcinogenic substances?  For example, glue from chipboard, Melamines and Laminates.  What effect will this have on our children and grandchildren?

(ii)          ANSWER; NRW will ensure that the wood that is sourced is suitable for purpose through regulatory checks in the supply chain.  The appropriate inspections and checks are the responsibility of the NRW (as the regulatory body).  NRW has approximately 20/30 field officers working cross South East Wales who are engaged in audit and regulatory checks. The applicant is also required to demonstrate that it has procedures in place to ensure that it only accepts waste wood types that are approved for acceptance by NRW as part of any permit which may be granted.

8.3.        Question 2;

(i)            How can NRW be certain about wood sourced from overseas?

(ii)          How can NRW be certain that the source wood is not contaminated?

(iii)         What about creosote, painted wooden doors and windows and other detritus from (for example) demolition sites?

(iv)         ANSWER; All sourced wood must be sorted and rigorously graded across a scale of A-D, where A grade is clean untreated wood (including virgin timber and some other untreated wood), and D is wood treated with hazardous substances

(v)          NRW conducts regulatory audits throughout the process – from suppliers through to the plant.

 

8.4.        Question 3;

 (i)    The shed in which the wood will be stored before entering the incinerator is not shown on the site map as circulated by NRW

(ii)  ANSWER; NRW will take back for consideration in their determination and thereafter provide a full answer.

8.5.        Question 4;

(i)    What are the fire risks generally cross the site?

(ii)  How can one procedure cater for diverse varieties of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF)?

(iii) ANSWER; NRW works closely with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that the company’s procedures meet with approved standards.

(iv) The applicant has not applied to accept RDF at the site.

(v)  Recognising the high level of concern raised by residents, JH and Councillors will be vigilant to ensure absolute compliance with these standards.

 

8.6.        Question 5;

 

(i)            Given the proximity of the site to the community, how can standards of pollution be guaranteed?

(ii)          Why build the plant so close to the largest town in Wales?

(iii)         Will residents need to keep their doors and windows closed to avoid pollution from the plant?

(iv)         Reference to other sites and applications was made during the meeting in terms of residents’ concerns and regulation. 

(v)          ANSWER; NRW is conscious of the closeness of the site to the community so standards of monitoring pollution are stringent and supported by regular checks and audits – both routine and unannounced (“spot”) by NRW.

(vi)         Planning Permission has been awarded to this application by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and NRW is now undertaking a consultation as to whether an environmental permit can be granted.  This meeting is the start of this process and it is important that the Vale AM and councillors work closely with the community and all interested parties to ensure that all concerns are properly addressed.

 

8.7.        Question 6;

 

(i)            Why was Planning Permission granted before the Environmental Permit?

(ii)          How intertwined are the Planning Permission (Vale Council) and the Environmental Permit (NRW).

(iii)         Why has the company begun construction when the Environmental Permit has yet to be granted?

(iv)         How can the company be so certain that the Environmental Permit will be granted?

(v)          ANSWER; the company (Biomass UK No. 2 Ltd) is building the plant at its own risk.

(vi)         Planning Permission and the Environmental Permit are two distinct and entirely separate legal processes which carry no mutual obligation.

(vii)        (One resident observed that atmospheric inversion is common over Barry and can be observed daily from higher vantage points within the town; specifically, Romilly Park Road (Standing Stones end)).  Inversion can also be observed from Whitewell Road / Winston Road).

(viii)      NRW will consider emission levels and the issue of inversion throughout the determination process.

 

8.8.        Question 7;

 

(i)            Will the plant burn black bags?

(ii)          ANSWER; the NRW Officers said absolutely not. The applicants have not applied to do so either.

 

8.9.        Question 8;

 

(i)            Who will profit from the plant?

(ii)          Can we look at the company’s other operations and activities?

(iii)         Is the Barry Plant (therefore) a completely new enterprise and does that make Barry Residents “Guineas Pigs”?

(iv)         Can the company appeal if the Environmental Permit is refused?

(v)          ANSWER; the company (Biomass UK No. 2 Ltd) is a commercial enterprise.  NRW is a Public Body Regulator and will not profit in any way.

(vi)         This plant is the first of its kind in Wales.  However the emission standards they would have to meet are not new and are well established in the regulations. Biomass UK No2 Ltd does not operate elsewhere in Wales either

(vii)        Yes; the company can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate if the permit is refused.

9. TAKING STOCK / NEXT STEPS

 

9.1 JH paused the meeting to ask what specific evidence is NRW seeking from residents.

9.2 JH observed that we cannot simply say that we do not want the plant in Barry; we need reasoned argument and solid evidence as to why the plant should not be granted an Environmental Permit by NRW.

 

 

9.3 JH reflected briefly on the mood of the meeting (and probably the mood of residents who had not been able to attend this evening).  Residents are very worried (for reasons documented earlier in the meeting) and largely cynical as to the company’s motives and business aspirations.

9.4 JH asked how residents can make their representations to NRW and thereby take an active part in the consultation.

9.5 NRW invited submissions by post or email for the attention of NRW Officers present this evening

9.6 The contact details will be provided as an addendum to these minutes.

9.7 Secretary’s Note; see Appendix 1 to these minutes.  Please copy in JH so that she can monitor the level and nature of all representations.

9.8 One resident had asked for a copy of the company’s full application and had received a CD in reply.  Others remarked that NRW had sent copious information electronically rather than by post.  Not all residents (by their own admission) are IT literate or possess PCs, laptops or similar.

9.9 NDL referred to the hard copy of the full application which had been brought to the meeting.  NDL explained that NRW tries to send material electronically (or display on-line) because the process of sending hard copy is cumbersome and not entirely practical or environmentally friendly.

9.10      There is the option to visit the NRW Offices on Newport Road, Cardiff.  However, NRW acknowledges that this is not necessarily convenient for Barry residents and would listen to views about other ways the information could be shared.

10. COMMUNICATION

 

10.1.     Communication between NRW, JH, Councillors and Residents is crucial going forward.

10.2.     The meeting asked if all parties to the dialogue would “go the extra mile” in terms of disseminating information and ensuring that the entire process is full and transparent.

10.3.     How do this evening’s organisers and NRW representatives propose to do this?  Could this include: –

 

·         A leaflet drop across the town

·         NRW website

·         Local media

·         Further meetings like this evening

 

10.4.     JH assured the meeting that this evening’s discussions would be followed up with NRW to consider further options for consultation, including local businesses and residents across Barry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. THE COMPANY; BIOMASS UK NO. 2 LTD

 

11.1.     There was a discussion as to the history and integrity of the Company, with questions as to the current practices of “Biomass No.1

11.2.     NRW suggested that the “No. 2” title was simply a trading name without necessarily suggesting that there is a “No. 1.” plant operating elsewhere in the UK.  However officers were not sure on this point. There was some suggestion from the floor that “No. 1” is operating in Hull.

11.3.     The meeting was informed that INTERNET research reveals very little other than a Registered Office address in London (No. 1 Poultry London EC2R 8EJ).

12. CLOSING REMARKS

 

12.1.     JH drew the meeting to a close and said that she would circulate the minutes of the meeting to those who registered attendance and put them on her website.

12.2.     JH thanked everyone for attending the first of these community consultation public meetings

12.3.     JH thanked the NRW officers for their presentations and contributions to the first of these public meetings

12.4.     JH looked forward to a thorough consultation process.

12.5.     JH closed the meeting at approximately 7.35pm.

 

 SIGNED____________________________________________________________

 

Jane Hutt AM (CHAIR)

MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WALES (VALE OF GLAMORGAN CONSTITUENCY)

 1st March 2017

 (Minutes prepared by Ian McGill)

 APPENDIX 1.

 

NATURAL RESOURCES WALES CONTACT INFORMATION

By Post to: –

Regulated Industry Permitting Team Leader

Natural Resources Wales

Ty Cambria

29, Newport Road

CARDIFF

CF24 0TP

By Email to: –

permittingconsultations@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk

Please copy your correspondence to: –

Jane Hutt AM

Constituency Office

115 High St

Barry

CF62 7DT

 

Tel. 01446 740981

Email; jane.hutt@assembly.wales

AND

Councillor Pamela Drake BA Hons

2 Parc Clwyd

Springfields

Barry

CF63 1DS

Tel.      01446 742657

Mob.   07867 538979

Email. PDrake@valeofglamorgan.gov.uk

1st March 2017

 

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