Jane Chairs Meeting with NRW and DIAG

On 8th May 2017 Jane Hutt AM chaired a meeting between  representatives of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and DIAG (Docks Incinerator Action Group). Minutes of this important meeting are below








Jane Hutt AM (Chair) (JH) Assembly Member for the Vale of Glamorgan Constituency
DIAG (alphabetical order)  
Paul Arnold (PA) DIAG
Julia Brunskill (JB) DIAG
Dennis Clarke DC) DIAG
Andy East (AE) DIAG
Alexis Liosatos (AL) DIAG (Chair)
Tina Paulakis (TP) DIAG
Max Wallis (MW) DIAG / Friends of the Earth
NRW (alphabetical order)  
Caitriona Harvey (CH) Industry and Waste Team Leader
Nadia De Longhi (NDL) Operations Manager
Anna Lewis (AL/NRW) Principal Permitting Officer
Dr Ji Ping Shi (JS) Air Quality Modelling/Risk Assessment Team Leader
Ian McGill (IM) Minutes




Kelvin Knight DIAG




3.1.        JH thanked everyone for attending the meeting.

3.2.        JH asked everyone present to sign the Attendance Register which was being circulated.

3.3.        JH asked everyone to confirm that they had received a copy of this evening’s draft agenda and asked if the meeting approved.  AL (Chair of DIAG) confirmed that the agenda matched what DIAG had asked for.

3.4.        JH then welcomed the meeting and thanked delegates for their extensive preparation and efforts in bringing to this very important meeting a range of collective expertise and knowledge.

3.5.        This evening’s meeting represents a milestone in these discussions and we hope to address the key concerns for DIAG and the community that this organisation represents.

3.6.        JH referred to the Capita Report (Barry Wood Gasification Facility Permit Application Review; April 2017) as commissioned by Barry Town Council.  This Report is vital to our discussions going forward.

3.7.        JH invited all present to introduce themselves so that the meeting could be conducted on first name terms


3.7.1.   Paul Arnold; Local Resident

3.7.2.   Andy East; (professional background in the oil and gas industry)

3.7.3.   Julia Brunskill; former School Governor at Holton Road School

3.7.4.   Tina Paulakis; former teacher and member of DIAG for some 3 months.

3.7.5.   Max Wallis; Friends of the Earth and DIAG

3.7.6.   Dennis Clarke; born and bred in Barry; Solicitor specialising in Fraud and Judicial Review though without specific expertise in legal environmental issues.

3.7.7.   Ji Ping Shi; NRW Air Quality Modelling/Risk Assessment Team Leader

3.7.8.   Caitriona Harvey; NRW Industry and Waste Team Leader

3.7.9.   Nadia De Longhi; NRW Operations Manager

3.7.10.Anna Lewis; NRW Principal Permitting Officer

3.7.11.Alexis Liosatos; Chair DIAG

3.7.12.Ian McGill (minutes secretary)



4.1.        The minutes of the meeting held in the Pendragon Room on 2 May were briefly discussed, together with the Capita Report (see 3.6. above) attached as an addendum

4.2.        JH invited the meeting to note the minutes to which all agreed.






5.1.        JS made a short presentation to the meeting, observing that Dispersion Modelling and Risk Assessment would ordinarily be the subject of a one full day seminar.  Nevertheless, JS would attempt to provide an overview within the 5 minutes available during this meeting.

5.2.        The Presentation Slides appear at Appendix 1 to these minutes.






5.3.        MW explained that he has some professional experience in plume modelling, participating in NSCA’s Dispersion Modelling Users Group.  We know the winds in Barry are very different from those at Rhoose airport from data gathered for several years by instruments on Barry’s eastern dock, run by Dow Corning.

5.4.        He said the company had chosen not to use the Meteorological Office’s national Weather Prediction Model which was applied to the application at Cwmfelinfach where it became clear that the occurrence of temperature inversion could trap fumes over the village.  NRW had not been satisfied that the company had demonstrated it could operate without harming people.

5.5.        In addition, the coastal location of the Barry Docks Incinerator (and the variations in terrain roughness and land/water temperature differences causing sea breezes) had not been considered by the Applicant.

5.6.        As at Cwmfelinfach, temperature inversion over the Barry Dock basin would create trapped fumes from the plume over the basin and adjacent urban area.

5.7.        It is best practice to employ 2 models and to take the worst-case. The applicant instead uses wind data only from Rhoose-Cardiff airport.  They do not validate it on the ground and they do not compare results from the second model (ADMS) as is good practice in contentious cases.




5.8.        JS indicated that Dispersion Modelling and Risk Assessment is often sourced from a commercial package, in the UK, mainly based upon 2 models (one from the USA AERMOD and one from the UK ADMS).



5.9.        JS agreed that the Rhoose data is not unassailable.  However, the facility at Cardiff (Rhoose) Airport is a Meteorological Station and is governed by Meteorological Office guidelines.  Taken as a whole, therefore, it can provide a reliable benchmark.  The Capita Report actually confirms this assertion.

5.10.     Nevertheless, JS said NRW were not happy with the resolution in the application’s dispersion predictions was not good enougpp resd major deficiencies and that and that there is scope to also include the Meteorological Office Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) met data extracted at the proposed site for comparison.

5.11.     AE suggested that the real test was to measure the impact of meteorological conditions within one square kilometre of the incinerator plant and to compare this with the Met Office data through the modelling process.

5.12.     JH noted the 5-year modelling comparison as highlighted in the passage from the Executive Summary of the Capita Report (viz. Sensitivity tests to be carried out for the 5 years of meteorological data used).

5.13.     Similarly, AE noted that Dow Corning has been collecting data of this kind for many years prior to Biomass showing any interest in the site, so their research could be useful to NRW by way of background when arriving at a decision.

5.14.     AE drew attention to the 10 specific comments in the Capita Report in need of further discussion, viz.


(i)             Revised emission rates to be included in the report

(ii)            Review of model input files, and any calculations determined by stack height to ensure a stack height of 43 metres has been used

(iii)           Sensitivity tests to be carried out for the 5 years of meteorological data used

(iv)          Reference to variability in location of maximum process contributions due to meteorological data

(v)           Inclusion of a surface roughness file in the model

(vi)          Provision of building dimensions and model input parameters

(vii)         Correction of Chromium VI as a percentage of emissions in results

(viii)        Recommendation of UK model ADMS to conduct similar modelling, hence results can be compared

(ix)          Address the air dispersion model limitation and modelling uncertainty

(x)           Provision of monitoring capabilities for stack emissions


5.15.     NDL suggested that we look at these specific items later in the meeting when the Agenda (and DIAG questions) would automatically create the discussion.

5.16.     JH asked the meeting to focus on the JS presentation




5.17.     TP asked for a definition of “Receptor”.

5.18.     JS explained that this is Technical Modelling Language and that a “Receptor” can mean any and all of the following: –


Human health receptors


(i)            Hospitals

(ii)          Schools

(iii)         Private residences

(iv)         Places where public exposure is likely, e.g., public parks

(v)          Ecosystems receptors

(vi)         More detailed definition can be found at the Local Air Quality Management Technical Guidance (TG16); April 2016


5.19.     JB expressed concern that Biomass had neglected to mention most of these key “receptors” in their application documents, and asked NRW to confirm that, in effect, the Biomass Incinerator will create an impact on all of the above “Receptors”.

5.20.     JS confirmed this. He stated that NRW are not happy with the “rough modelling” in the Biomass application.  NRW will ask for “maximum readings,” and insist that schools must be included.  Better risk assessment is required to assess the impact at various receptors.

5.21.     AL (Chair of DIAG) quoted from Page 10 of the Capita Report, viz.


It is difficult to understand such difference in (the Biomass) results.  This applied to discrepancies of the other pollutant concentration predictions too.


5.22.     JS noted this comment and JH felt that this issue could be dealt with later in the meeting as per the agenda and the specific written questions as submitted by DIAG




5.23.     PA asked about the future of Barry Graving Dock as a Country Park (as set out in the Vale of Glamorgan LDP) and if either the Applicant or NRW had considered this in terms of risk to Receptors.




5.24.     AL/NRW welcomed the question but felt unable to cast the modelling process in terms of events or occurrences which may or may not take place in the future.  The refinements to the modelling grid requested from the applicant will enable NRW to see what the predicted impact is for specific locations/receptors and for areas earmarked for future housing development which are close to the proposed co-incinerator.

5.25.     JH felt that this example of forward thinking was valuable and thanked NRW for its response.





6.1.        NDL suggested that Questions (a) and (b) are closely linked and could reasonably be taken together); viz.


(a)   Could we share and discuss the level of deficiencies in the documentation that has been submitted by or on behalf of the applicant? Our concerns here are with the adequacy of the process and documentation relied upon in support of the application.


(b)   We are worried about the impact on the health of people living in or visiting Barry and the surrounding areas bearing in mind the polluted atmosphere from industry and traffic that already impacts on health locally. The documentation from the applicant does not appear to look at the interests of the elderly or the very young and those who have health issues such as asthma and COPD. How is it possible to be satisfied that there will be no impact on the health of these and others, especially when the pollution is added on top of that already present?


6.2.        Secretary’s Note; the questions as drafted by DIAG appear at Appendix 2 to these minutes.

6.3.        DC had been asked by DIAG to articulate Questions (a) and (b).

6.4.        Secretary’s note; the verbal submission by DC was drawn from prepared notes which appear at Appendix 3 to these minutes.  See pp. 19 – 24

6.5.        The key question is when will DIAG (and the community) know the date on which the extended consultation will close?




6.6.        AL/NRW described the process.

6.7.        When the Applicant (in this case Biomass UK No 2 Ltd) makes the application, NRW writes to request any necessary additional information.  This request is made under Schedule 5 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.

6.8.        A draft Schedule 5 notice was tabled.  Secretary’s Note; the version to be issued in the week commencing Monday 15th May 2017 will appear at Appendix 4 to these minutes (to follow).

6.9.        In terms of timeline, the Applicant will need a reasonable time to gather the necessary information and to respond with accuracy.  On that basis, NRW has invited the Applicant to provide a date on which NRW can reasonably expect to receive a response.

6.10.     Once the response to the Schedule 5 Notice is received, NRW will invite interested parties to respond within a fresh 28-day window.  This will include, specifically: –


(i)            Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

(ii)          Public Health Wales

(iii)         DIAG


6.11.     MW felt that a 28-day window was insufficient for responses to be compiled to such a complex and highly technical application.

6.12.     AL/NRW confirmed that amendments would be made to the Schedule 5 Notice as a result of this evening’s discussions and that a final Notice would (if possible) be available for inclusion in the minutes early next week (commencing Monday 15 May).

6.13.     JH requested sight of this Notice on the understanding that it would remain confidential until confirmed for clearance by NRW.

6.14.     There was further discussion around the levels of asthma and Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) prevalent in and around the Barry Dock area.  DC quoted Public Health Wales’s (PHW) view (from the Cwmfelinfach document) that there is no “safe” level of NO2 pollution and PM2.5 levels

6.15.     JS referred to EU PM 2.5 targets and promised to look at these targets within the context of the proposed Biomass Plant on Barry Docks

6.16.     Secretary’s note; Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is an air pollutant that is a concern for people’s health when levels in the air are high. PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated. Outdoor PM2.5 levels are most likely to be elevated on days with little or no wind or air mixing.

6.17.     DC asked if the Applicant, as part of its monitoring processes, is measuring PM10s on Cardiff Road (Barry).  Cardiff Road is possibly the most polluted area of the town.

6.18.     Is the Vale of Glamorgan Council monitoring levels of PM10s on Cardiff Road?  If so, the data should be released.


6.19.     (PM10 particles are made up of a complex mixture of many different species including soot (carbon), sulphate particles, metals and inorganic salts such as sea salt. The particles vary in size and shape, up to 10 microns’ diameter).

6.20.     JS confirmed that the Schedule 5 Notice actually posed questions to the Applicant which are more searching than the Capita Report, including requirements for additional modelling to be undertaken.




6.21.     PA returned to his theme of the future of Barry within the context of the Incinerator.

(i)            What steps are being taken to consider the burgeoning housing development on Barry Waterfront (and its proximity to the Incinerator)?

(ii)          Has any thought been given to the probable addition to air pollution volumes, likely with the arrival of the new Ash Plant on Wimborne Road?

(iii)         Has consideration been given to the impact of heavy lorries coming and going to and from the plant for delivery and/or collection of materials, and the burden upon the local infrastructure?




6.22.     In response, CH confirmed that Raymond Brown Minerals and Recycling Ltd (which had acquired both Planning Permission and an Environmental Permit for the site on Wimborne Road) had decided not to proceed for commercial reasons.

6.23.     Anecdotal reports of office space (“Reception”) being established at the Wimborne Road site need to be clarified.

6.24.     Raymond Brown may be considering maintaining the environmental permit as it can be an attractive asset to potential future users of the site as both Planning Permission and an Environmental Permit are in place.

6.25.     JH will contact Associated British Ports (ABP) about the Wimborne Road site to ascertain current and future uses.

6.26.     DC asked, given that the Capita Report depicts the Barry Docks Incinerator 18th “worst plume”; what do plumes 1 – 17 look like and how hazardous is stage 18 by comparison?

6.27.     JS will take back and check







6.28.     TP and JB asked questions (c) and (d);


(c)   We note that the applicant has not submitted a report to deal with fire mitigation risk and explained how they propose to deal with such an emergency in accordance with the recommendations found in CIRIA736.


(d)    In view of the multiple inadequacies in the data relied upon by the applicant (for example in noise pollution and atmospheric pollution), should NRW reject their application at this stage bearing in mind the applicant’s failures in addressing their defects?


6.29.     Two maps were circulated showing the nearest “receptors” (none of which were included by the applicant in the modelling data).












6.30.     TP and JB drew attention to the very high numbers of human Receptors within the Plume’s 1-km and 2-km circles of influence in the town.

6.31.     Unborn babies and infants being breast-fed are at particular risk from pollutants. Pollution can accumulate in the breast milk of lactating mothers.

6.32.     TP and JB noted that there are 17 Primary Schools in Barry (with associated Flying Start Projects and Nursery facilities).  In a town of over 50,000 residents, there are approximately 4,900 primary school children. Around 4,000 of these children are in schools located within 2 km of the incinerator.

6.33.     There is also the Open-Air Market (as a Receptor); Barry Dock Station (8 trains per hour; more during peak times and summer holidays)

6.34.     These Receptors lie within the radius (as described in the map at Appendix 5) together with Barry Library and play areas frequented by children and pregnant mothers.



6.35.     There could be risk to the 8 Football Pitches at Buttrills Playing Fields.  These and the above locations were not taken into consideration by Biomass in their application documents.

6.36.     NDL explained that the  new, more detailed dispersion modelling and risk assessment would have to take all these receptors into account, and

6.37.      would confirm whether there is a “significant” or “not significant” risk of pollution.

6.38.     The response to the Schedule 5 Notice will be crucial in this dialogue with Health professionals at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Public Health Wales. NRW will work closely with these bodies to be certain of the level of health risks to the people of Barry and further afield.

6.39.     JH emphasised concerns about schools and the need for the modelling process to address the number of children as Receptors.  Within this overall context, it will be vital that the community is kept informed of NRW’s work with Biomass.




6.40.     TP stated that at DIAG’s recent meeting with the Health Board, Fiona Kinghorn and Huw Brunt confirmed that the local Barry population has a substantially higher level of material deprivation than the rest of Wales and this population are more likely to suffer ill health from air pollution.

6.41.     TP drew attention to the levels of economic and social deprivation in the 5 Wards closest to the Incinerator.  These 5 Wards are the most deprived in the Vale of Glamorgan, viz.


(i)            Gibbonsdown

(ii)          Court

(iii)         Cadoc

(iv)         Castleland

(v)          Dyfan


6.42.     These Wards are Flying start and community first areas. – national schemes to alleviate poverty.

6.43.     Local Asthma levels are 9% – substantially higher than the national average. 6% (Asthma society data and local GP data)

6.44.     TP asked: Are you prepared to acknowledge the presence of the vulnerable population and can you ensure that the risk assessment is robust enough to ensure that the population are protected?

6.45.     Social and Economic Deprivation was an important feature of the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board decision to oppose the Incinerator at Cwmfelinfach.

6.46.     Cwmfelinfach is in the highest 10% of material deprivation in Wales, as are the 5 wards in Barry.




6.47.     JB referred to the fact that Nitrogen Dioxide levels in air should not be increasing.

6.48.     Current levels of Nitrogen Dioxide present in the air in Barry is already high.  MW understands that there is no “safe” level of Nitrogen Dioxide in the air

6.49.     Once again, the NRW officials sought to reassure the meeting that the modelling process will address these concerns, as the levels considered in assessing health impacts take on board both the current background and the additional emissions from the operation.  The response to the Schedule 5 Notice and discussions with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Public Health Wales will be vital.




6.50.     TP referred to the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and its remit to improve the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales.  The onus is on public bodies to think more about the long term, work better with people and communities and each other, look to prevent problems and take a more joined-up approach.  Public bodies need to make sure that when making their decisions they take into account the impact they could have on people living their lives in Wales in the future.

6.51.     Three of the National Indicators of Well-being were referred to: 4 – Levels of nitrogen Dioxide in the air, 23 – The percentage of people who feel that they can influence local decisions and 26 – The percentage of people who feel satisfied

6.52.     NDL accepted the point.  As a Regulatory Body NRW needs to work within the relevant and applicable legislation (in this case Environmental Permitting Regulations, which she described as “primary”) as well as within the framework of the recently introduced legislation on well-being.

6.53.     TP felt that the Act has immediate implications and should inform the work of NRW specifically.



6.54.     JH emphasised that the Act is very important. Carwyn Jones raised the same point during his recent visit to in Barry. It is important that we pay full regard to the national indicators.




6.55.     AE addressed the meeting, raising key observations concerning the fire risk and the pollution control effects in the event of a major incident.

6.56.     AE described his global background of over 35 years in the Oil and Gas industry and the Energy Sector.  In particular, the supply of products, systems and services for terminals, refineries and petrochemical plants where COMAH and DSEAR regulated Sites are mandatory.

6.57.     AE’s presentation reflected his technical knowledge of the issues and elaborated on the framework document that he produced for the meeting (and which appears at Appendix 6).

6.58.     He concluded that the Biomass application contained major deficiencies and that “Something so big [the incinerator] should not be so close to so many receptors.”

6.59.     CH responded.

6.60.     CH confirmed that she had meticulously studied the materials as submitted by the Applicant and had immediately addressed any obvious gaps in the application.  For example, the Applicant stated that details of the Storage Facility would be submitted at the end of the process and CH had insisted on immediate submission of this vital piece of evidence. This will be picked up in the Schedule 5 process.

6.61.     Additionally, CH stated that details of, and responses to “worst case scenarios” would be required from Biomass. As it currently stands, CH said the Biomass application was clearly not good enough.

6.62.     CH is also working with NRW colleagues who are professionally and technically trained and experienced in these matters.

6.63.     AE offered further assistance in the future if that is helpful.

6.64.     AE asked if comparisons are being made with Dow Corning and whether they are part of the consultation process.  Dow’s assessment could be helpful as would comments from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

6.65.     CH noted AE’s comments and explained that South Wales Fire and Rescue had provided initial comments and when we have the new information we will consult again.  However, the Incinerator and its implication for the Service are very much on their radar now.

6.66.     JH highlighted the importance of hard evidence and local knowledge in assessing the Application.




(d)           In view of the multiple inadequacies in the data relied upon by the applicant (for example in noise pollution and atmospheric pollution), should NRW reject their application at this stage bearing in mind the applicant’s failures in addressing their defects?



6.67.     MW further addressed Question (D).

6.68.     The noise appraisal uses unveriable data and disregards low night-time noise levels measured professionally by Parsons-Brinckerhoff.  Capita was very critical for its unrealistic assumptions and non-compliance with British Standards.

6.69.     MW suggested that the Rhoose Airport Data is irrelevant within the context of the hilly topography around the proposed Incinerator.

6.70.     More reliable data is available from Dow Corning and the Met Office (and from amateur meteorological stations).

6.71.     As the Capita Report points out, the application does not consider downwash (change in direction of deflected air) from the incinerator building.

6.72.     The application gives no data on pollutants in the wood-chip fuel; nor any data on smoke and fumes which arise from glue, paint and melamine in the waste-wood from an accidental fire. PHW do have a lot of data from the several wood-chip fires in SE Wales.

6.73.     There is no Fire Mitigation Report within the Application, which should feed into emergency planning to cope with fires.

6.74.     No assessment of risk to health, which should include categories of vulnerable people (children, asthma and COPD sufferers etc.)

6.75.     No information on use elsewhere of the technology.  (Evidence at pages 1 and 2 of the Report by Biofuelwatch at Appendix 7).

6.76.     In short, the Application is unprofessional and inaccurate generally and NRW should discard it.  Likewise, the fire, accident and atmospheric pollution documents are inadequate, so NRW should reject the entire application as the Town Council asks.

6.77.     NDL responded

6.78.     NDL accepted the lack of detail in some areas of the Application but NRW cannot reject it out of hand.  Rather, NRW has a duty as a Regulatory Body to be reasonable under the Regulator’s Code and to use the mechanisms provided by the Environmental Permitting Regulations to apply the processes as described earlier in the meeting (specifically, the Schedule 5 Notice).

6.79.     NRW is about to issue the third Schedule 5 Notice so the process is now beginning to look at the finer detail of the Application.  If NRW were to reject the Application in its entirety at this stage, the applicant has a right of appeal and NRW would be unlikely to be successful against such an appeal – which would all be a waste of time and public money. It is appropriate to examine the most recent response to the Schedule 5 Notice and to arrive at a considered judgement.

6.80.     DC informed the meeting that Hawkins Antiques & Reproductions Limited (21-23 Romilly Buildings Woodham Rd CF63 4JE Barry Docks) had been in touch to complain about the iron filings in the air during the construction of the Incinerator and that staff were inhaling same.

6.81.     JH asked DC if he would take this up with the Vale of Glamorgan Council who should act accordingly.




6.82.     TP asked this question: –


(e)   Is the NRW prepared to formally accept that this permit application should be designated as High Public Interest (HPI)? If not yet of that view, what further information would NRW need in order to so designate?



6.83.     NDL said that no formal declaration to this effect had been made.  Nevertheless, NRW is aware of the strength of local feeling and felt that NRW could have picked up on this earlier in the process. NRW have communicated clearly what steps it is taking to ensure detailed public engagement at the initial public meeting in February and subsequent letter to Mr Stockdale and are going above the minimum standards required in our Public Participation Statement. The relationship between NRW and DIAG is now more positive and NRW welcomed the awareness-raising that the group had undertaken.  NDL made assurances that NRW will act in accordance with an understanding of public concerns.

6.84.     TP emphasised the exponential growth in local awareness and strength of feeling (across all age groups).  The Petition numbers are burgeoning and DIAG is acting as the conduit of public opinion within Barry.

6.85.     Again, the 28-day consultation period was felt to be inadequate.  However, NDL explained that NRW cannot keep this as an open-ended process and they need to tie down some timescales.  DIAG will be made aware well in advance of the response timeline so that they can plan.

6.86.     AL (Chair of DIAG) wanted to make sure that the Group and the community had a chance to respond.

6.87.     AL (Chair of DIAG) wanted to assure the meeting that the dialogue will be informed, measured and professional and he encouraged the meeting to adopt this approach going forward.  He does not want an adversarial approach to this discussion.  Nevertheless, there is a mood of anger and concern within the community and the DIAG membership (together with the wider concerned community) is diverse in its approach.




6.88.     TP reminded the meeting that there are Welsh Medium Schools in Barry and she is concerned that consultation materials are not available in Welsh

6.89.     JH emphasised the importance of this point.

6.90.     CH assured the meeting that NRW website/consultation documents are bilingual.  However, there is no onus on NRW to translate materials as submitted by the commercial Applicant.

6.91.     MW commented that, once they receive the company’s Section-5 response, NRW could produce a non-technical summary in both English and Welsh, and make print copies available.  At the same time, this implies a need to increase the 28-day response time.



7.1.        JH summed up the discussions, suggesting that this evening’s meeting had been positive and helpful.  There was a consensus that this was a shared assessment of the meeting.

7.2.        We now have “faces to names” and the potential to flag up issues with NRW by email, as and when they arise.

7.3.        NDL felt that this group represented a more constructive method of dialogue, rather than Public Meetings, which can become difficult to control.

7.4.        JH asked how everyone felt about a follow-up meeting

7.5.        CH agreed that the meeting had been successful but suggested that a second “technical” meeting would be of value only when new information had been submitted by the Applicant.

7.6.        NDL felt that this application process has been a learning experience for NRW officials and that a follow-up meeting would be valuable once the necessary responses to the Schedule 5 Notice consultation had been received by the Cardiff and Vale University Hospital Health Board and Public Health Wales.

7.7.        JH will secure approval of the minutes by DIAG and NRW prior to posting on websites generally.

7.8.        JH is happy to act as a “post-box” in terms of the dissemination of materials across the piste.

7.9.        In the course of discussion, JB highlighted the difficulties with the NRW website.  NDL accepted this point and explained that the NRW website has been undergoing some update; hence the difficulties in navigation generally.




7.10.     JH suggested a follow-up meeting towards the end of July if that would be helpful.

7.11.     In the meantime, JH suggested the following Statement for websites generally (JH, NRW and DIAG)


A constructive meeting was held with 4 NRW Senior Officials and DIAG (7).  Questions agreed by DIAG as a result of recent public meetings were raised.


A Schedule 5 Notice requesting further information will be issued later this week and will be made public.


It was agreed that we would meet again when the Company had responded to the Schedule 5 Notice   Extended Consultation Dates for people to give their views will be made available.


7.12.     The meeting approved the proposed statement.



8.1.        JH closed the meeting at 8.36pm.






Jane Hutt AM


May 2017


Minutes prepared by: –


Ian McGill


Email ianmcgill@hotmail.co.uk


Mob. 07772 477920


17th May 2017




Presentation on Dispersion Modelling and Risk Assessment

Dr. Ji Ping Shi

Air Quality Modelling and Risk Assessment Team Leader 

Evidence, Policy and Permitting Directorate Natural Resources Wales 

Slide 1





Slide 2


Emission parameters

·         Emission rate (g/s, OU E/S, CFU/S, …)

·         Stack height, diameter, emission temp & velocity

Pathway parameters

·         Met conditions (WS, WD, Solar radiation, Cloud, etc.)

·         Terrain, buildings, etc.

·         Surface roughness

Receptor conditions

·         Receptor location

·         Receptor height

Slide 3


·         Long term concentration / deposition

–       Annual average

·         Short term concentration

–       Maximum (i.e. 100th percentile) hourly average for short term EALs


–       High percentile concentration

–       99.9%ile of 15-minute mean for SO2

–       99.79%ile of hourly NO2 mean

Slide 4

Background concentrations

·         Relevant representative monitored data

·         Background map (1 km x 1 km grid resolution) – Defra website (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

·         Others



Slide 5

Air quality risk assessment

·         Generate appropriate predictions at each location (receptor) defined

·         Consider background contributions

·         Take uncertainty into account

·         Compare with relevant EQS’


Ian McGill


07772 477920


17th May 2017


















(a)  Could we share and discuss the level of deficiencies in the documentation that has been submitted by or on behalf of the applicant? Our concerns here are with the adequacy of the process and documentation relied upon in support of the application.


(b)  We are worried about the impact on the health of people living in or visiting Barry and the surrounding areas bearing in mind the polluted atmosphere from industry and traffic that already impacts on health locally. The documentation from the applicant does not appear to look at the interests of the elderly or the very young and those who have health issues such as asthma and COPD. How is it possible to be satisfied that there will be no impact on the health of these and others, especially when the pollution is added on top of that already present?


(c)  We note that the applicant has not submitted a report to deal with fire mitigation risk and explained how they propose to deal with such an emergency in accordance with the recommendations found in CIRIA736.


(d)  In view of the multiple inadequacies in the data relied upon by the applicant (for example in noise pollution and atmospheric pollution), should NRW reject their application at this stage bearing in mind the applicant’s failures in addressing their defects?


(e)  Is the NRW prepared to formally accept that this permit application should be designated as High Public Interest (HPI)? If not yet of that view, what further information would NRW need in order to so designate?


(f)   Can we discuss the timescale for consideration of this application, further action to be taken, and how can we assist NRW further?




Alexis Liosatos



8th May 2017












Submission by Mr Dennis Clarke (Solicitor) on behalf of DIAG




We are grateful for the opportunity of being able to put views to Natural Resources Wales to be taken into account when the permit application is considered.  We are hopeful; that the concerns that we express continue to support the view that this permit application should be refused.


We accept that compared to others involved within the core of the process we are mere amateurs but we live in the area, we have genuine concerns about the application for a permit, we speak to our family, friends and neighbours and we know the level of worry and anger in the town.


We note at the top of this meeting that when some monies were made available by Barry Council and Capita was asked to produce a report within a short period of time, this report supported the view that the application by Biomass is deficient.  The report from Capita was dealt with very quickly and had to be written on the basis of the material that had been submitted by Biomass with no other opportunity to produce their own data.  It is expected that if accurate, local data were to be sought then further issues will arise on this application by Biomass.


If any of the representations we make are found to be without a basis or if NRW considers but rejects any of our representations we trust that such rejections will not necessarily reflect on our other representations as we are doing our best as residents representing the views of other residents but in our role as amateurs.  If we get one or more issues wrong it will not mean we get all the issues wrong.


I will deal briefly with the process in so far as I am able to highlight some points.  Just because I do not cover a particular matter does not mean that it is in any way agreed.  The chances are that I just didn’t understand the documentation.  There are so many issues on the paperwork that I will deal very briefly with matters but I will leave you with my notes which may, in places, be more detailed.  If after this meeting there are any issues upon which you would like our further assistance we will all be available to you at a time to suit you.


Should the process be one of “utmost good faith” on the part of the applicant bearing in mind the health implications and the very different bargaining/knowledge levels.  The applicant chooses the plant, the process and the site.  The applicant has the money, the expertise and the knowledge.  The applicant knows that this is not a game and that the local population is bound to have concerns that mere platitudes cannot allay.


As a society, we have moved on so that health is a much more important issue than erecting new industrial complexes or even putting up with old, inefficient, and polluting plants.


Governments are so concerned about atmospheric and other types of pollution that they enter into binding international agreements to limit the release of pollutants knowing that pollution will cross international boundaries.  We do not need to look so far to see “boundaries” crossed as the site chosen and look across the channel to Somerset where a different controlling authority would be interested.


The Directive 08/50/EU on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32008L0050) makes clear that it is concerned with reducing pollution levels to minimise harmful effects on human health, paying particular attention to sensitive populations etc.  It is important to combat emissions of pollutants at source and to identify and implement the most effective emission reduction measures at local, national and community level.  Therefore, emissions of harmful pollutants should be avoided, prevented or reduced and appropriate object is set for ambient air quality.  This quite from the Directive is pertinent for the Barry area where the deprivation levels are so high as to be of concern at the health level.


Understanding the science and the dangers involved must be fully understood by the operators – for obvious reasons.  It is the operator’s responsibility to ensure that those with the duty to monitor the health and wellbeing of those populations that might be affected by an installation and its emission are properly instructed by the operator as to the dangers inherent in their process so that these authorities can properly monitor the operation and the health of local people.


It is important to note that the Directive 08/50/EU on ambient air quality at para 11 tells us that the fine particulate matter (PM 2,5) is responsible for significant negative impacts on human health.  Further, there is as yet no identifiable threshold below which PM 2,5 would not pose a risk.  As such, the pollutant should not be regulated in the same way as other air pollutants.  The approach should aim at a general reduction of concentrations in the urban background to ensure that large sections of the population benefit from improved air quality.  We will all be aware of the concern that Government is showing with regard to air pollution with their report due for publication on the 9th May 2017.  PM 2,5 will continue to be a concern for central government and therefore all supervising authorities.  And yet the applicant relies in his application on a false premise to claim the impact will be insignificant.  By doing so the applicant is having to avoid dealing with certain aspects of his overall processes and also ignore the anticipated increase in PM 2,5 from other developments surrounding his site such that we will end up with housing close to the site on three sides (so much for describing it as an industrial area!).


Directives out of Europe seem to support the view of utmost good faith.  A point that can be expanded if need be.


The modern industrialist must be obliged to fully advise those with the duty to safeguard the environment so that those with the burden of policing such matters know what the risks are with the plant and the processes and what they need to do first of all to consider whether a permit is to be granted and secondly, to impose conditions on any permit and thirdly to supervise accordingly.


When it comes to the material on which NRW and the WHB are expected to make their decisions we see that the applicant’s expert reports have stood their ground and made it clear that their reports are “in support of the application” and not independent reports that the authorities should/could rely upon.


Independent expert reports are needed to advise fully and accurately NRW and others to ensure that NRW is able to take on board fully the processes and safeguards and be able to muse those reports to make their important decisions.  Without an independent assessment of the potential dangers by way of further expert evidence, in addition to the supporting reports, NRW may not be able to carry out its statutory functions in this regard to the extent that it would like to and ought therefore to refuse the application on this deficiency alone.  I understand it will be standard procedure to have two sets of reports when dealing with such important matters but the second set seems to be missing in this case.


In these days if austerity there may not be the funds/resources available to police industries that may be at the cutting edge of science but with the potential to be harmful to health.  Great care is needed to ensure that the appropriate safeguards are introduced and that applicants are held to account on their paperwork and may be required to cover the cost of independent investigations especially when there is reason to believe that their documentation should not be accepted at face value.


This is not a game that industrialists can play with a view to seeing if they can get away with something and make a profit.  This could literally be a matter of life and death for many people.  An inadequately presented application should be identified in this case and prevented from proceeding.  Only in this way can the supervising authorities ensure they are able to make the best/appropriate decisions.


Put briefly the applicant should be in the best position to know the issues and the importance from the point of view of public health and UK treaty obligations.  This means that the 21st Century approach in cases such as this is to require such applications to be dealt with by the applicant in utmost good faith.  This must involve the applicant in not only fully researching what is involved in the industrial process they want to carry out but then releasing all the material collected to the proper authority with any additional explanations that seem to them to be appropriate.  His should include not only proper assessment of locally measured data but, in a case like the present, clear research into other similar installations (wherever they happen to be) with notes as to what has gone wrong elsewhere or even where positive improvements have been achieved in other localities.  At present those living locally read about fires at what appear to be similar plants resulting in serious pollution and evacuations over wide urban areas.  It is wrong that applicants are allowed not to address such matters as the worry and therefore the stress that is left with the local residents adds to health concerns.



It might be worth noting that although questions have been raised with the applicants by NRW, the basic tenet appears to be to accept the data produced.  The letter sent in by the Health Board certainly appears to be based on the data and analyses supplied by the applicant which seems to suggest that the Health Board relies on NRW to check the details of the application and to ask all relevant questions.  The HB input is therefore dependant upon the full investigation by NRW and is not a standalone independent report that puts worries to bed.  Far from it.  The Health Board appears to be critical of the material insomuch as they highlight where other material is needed and which ought to be sent on to the HB before any final decision on this subject can be forthcoming.  What has been sent already is at best a preliminary view of the situation based on an assumption of accurate reporting by the applicant.


No decision can therefore be made at present as the Health Board has not yet been permitted to submit its full considered views. This is due to the default on the part of the applicant to a very significant extent and therefore any delay is as a result of either the applicants deliberate obfuscation or their lack of understanding of the nature and seriousness of the process they have entered upon.


It must be important to assess an application and decide if there appears to be some obvious defects in the papers that have been submitted to draw to the attention of the applicant (assuming the applicant is to be allowed to add to their paperwork having submitted it for such examination.  Accepting this is not a game to be played perhaps the default position is to allow the applicant to add to or amend documentation although in some instances the applicant might be required to explain any earlier failure to give full/proper disclosure).  When the applicant does respond to deal with the various omissions that have been highlighted it might be important to consider the reasons why the applicant filed to submit adequate documentation and further and more detailed scrutiny of their case might need to be undertaken.


Also note the potential health deficits related to PM 2,5 “Inhaling dust may cause negative health effects like asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular issues, and premature death.  Health effects are related to particle size as large particles can be filtered out in the nose and throat.  Particles with a size less than about 10 μm can enter the bronchi and the lungs, particles less than 2.5 μm in diameter can enter the gas exchange regions of the lungs, and particles less than 0.1 um can enter via the lungs into other organs.  Therefore, the potential for negative health effects increases with decreasing particle diameter.  Besides particle size also the chemical composition, e.g. carcinogenic components, and solubility of the particle in the lung has an impact on the potential health effects.”

(Para 124 http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/documents/2012/EB/ECE.EB.AIR.117_AV.pdf )


Inhalation of particulate pollution can have adverse health impacts, and there is understood to be no safe threshold below which no adverse effects would be anticipated.  (https://laqm.defra.gov.uk/public-health/pm25.html)


The EU through Directives sets targets under e.g. the Gothenburg protocol for countries to reduce pollution and has particular regard to the cost of achieving reductions.  Any targets are not necessarily set to deal with health concerns alone but the EU recognises in its pragmatic approach that the cost of achieving the long-term aims may not be affordable by each country.  The requirement is to reduce pollution and Gothenburg does not set safe limits on any view of the reading of that protocol.  There are presently no European national ceilings for safe levels for emission of particulate matter.  (https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/emissiions-of-primary-particles-and5/assessment-3)


As a consequence with regard to particulate material the struict rule has to be “exposure reduction” of PM 2,5 for the protection of human health (see http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32008L0050 article 15).  The imminent report by central government might very well make this point.


Road traffic is one of the two highest polluters for PM 2,5 (https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/reports/cat07/1609130906_NAEI_AQPI_Summary_Report_1990-2-14_Issue1.1,pdf page 3).  This proposed development promises a significant increase in road traffic by large lorries delivering waste wood to the incinerator and driving away, lorries come to the site, collect the ash and drive it away.  Some of the areas these lorries pass through have a very high level of pollution already but this has not been factored into the documentation produced and is a significant failure by the applicant as they must be aware of the harmful effects of PM 2,5. (A significant area for this concern has to be along Cardiff Road where there is collection of data but which is discounted by the applicant).  The additional traffic will of course add to the PM 2,5 levels throughout the area they pass through when delivering and going away.  In view of the high levels of PM 2,5 in relevant areas it was incumbent on the applicant to identify the increased dangers created along the proposed (as yet unidentified?) routes.  The applicant has not only failed to deal with this pollution from the increased traffic and from its own on-site processes but has not factored in the increase already planned for the area with the new Ash Processing plant just along the docks from the current site and the housing to be built just to the south of the site all of which would be expected to add to this type of pollution.  (En passant I would mention that the applicant does not appear to have considered the impact and noise in relation to the housing development even though it appears to encroach must close to the site that Dock View Road).


PM 2,5 is not referred to specifically in the Human Health Risk put in by the applicant.  If the applicant does purport to cover PM 2,5 then it is far from clear that this is the case.  The Air Quality Assessment advises us (Para 4.4) that readings have been undertaken in Cardiff Road Barry since 2010 for PM10 but describes data capture as relatively poor.  There is no real attempt to explain why this data is not usable, what the data would show if used and how it would affect the conclusions if incorporated into their calculations.  At the least it may be that such an assertion is of such seriousness that the VoG needs to consider its position.


This data should be better dealt with especially as this data may very well be the material that VoG is legally obliged to collect and on which assessments are made.  Criticism of The applicant should be made to incorporate this material as an alternative view of the pollution in the area where their pollutants will be adding to levels.  Almost as an aside it may be that I misunderstand the European Directives but I believe the present air quality objective is at 20 microgrammes per cubic metre for PM 2,5 rather than 25 relied upon I the report (See e.g. table 15).  On the basis of what is in the report it will come as no surprise that I cannot comment on the figures claimed (other than to point out the local figures ate discounted without real explanation) but the accepted science seems to suggest that there is no safe level of PM 2,5 and therefore any increase is to be deprecated and not simply written off as insignificant.  Measuring the admitted level of PM 2,5 against a figure that is nothing to do with “healthy” limits is yet again dangerous obfuscation and avoidance.  The level of increased particulate matter should be added to what is already there and what is about to come about with other developments to understand what is happening to the atmosphere in the Barry are and to better deal with this the local data should be incorporated.


Electricity generation and road traffic are identified as the two main polluters for NOx9.  The AQA does not appear to have included in the impact on pollutants the additional NOx from the increased traffic.  The AQAS also fails to include the data from the Cardiff Road collection site.  Instead the data relies on averages and wind data from Rhoose none of which are satisfactory as their site is surrounded by high ground which affects wind direction and probably cancels out any perceived protection given by a tall chimney.  The level of pollutants in the background is clearly high as Barry is a hotspot for certain chest complaints.  The applicant ought to incorporate the figures from Cardiff Road in its AQA (I assume that exercise was already carried out by them – it ought to have been) and they ought also look at local wind patterns.  They have had plenty of time to collect this material for themselves but they have either not bothered to take such steps over the years since contemplation of the plant or they do not like the data they collected.  If they did not collect data in the early days, they ought to have begun collection as soon as they realised they might otherwise have to rely on Rhoose which for inhabitants of Barry is considered inappropriate and misleading.


The applicant will have been aware that the EU Directive is designed to avoid, prevent, or reduce harmful effects on human health and the environment (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32008L0050 article 1) and that the applicant is obliged to approach developments in this important way.  The applicant does not appear to have given due weight to the need to ensure the basic tenet of EU law on pollution is satisfied.  It is clear that the intention is to maintain air quality where it is good and improve it in other cases (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32008L0050 article 1.5.).  The applicant may not have fully understood this.  There is serious pollution of the air in Barry and the ambition ought to be to reduce the pollution.  There is no safe additional level of pollution and there is no such thing as insignificant increase.


Exposure to high concentrations of PM (e.g. during short-term pollution episodes e.g. a fire) can also exacerbate lung and heart conditions, significantly affecting quality of life, and increase deaths and hospital admissions.  Children, the elderly and those with predisposed respiratory and cardiovascular disease, are known to be more susceptible to the health impacts from air pollution (see https://laqm.defra.gov.uk/public-health/pm25.html). Barry has more than its fair share of people who are or should be considered vulnerable and referring to them as “receptors” is hardly conducive to trust in the documentation.  In any event the documentation does not appear to have considered the fact that short term episodes can exacerbate lung and heart conditions and as such the documentation is again deficient and needs to be further addressed by the company applicant.


No account is taken of the other developments on the dicks including the ash processing facility and further significant housing development both of which are likely to add a great deal to the ambient pollution.  These are matters that the applicant knows about but has decided to ignore as being adverse to their application.  If that is a reasonable assumption then it is also reasonable to consider the question “what else has been overlooked?


Apart from there being no proper consideration of the impact of an incident at the plant the applicant has nor produced a plan for incidents that will safeguard residents and the surrounding environment. The base document to assist the applicant seems to be CIRIA 736.  If they are expert in their field they will know about CIRIA 736.  Perhaps it is fair to suggest that either they have buried the concerns that CIRIA 736 deal with or they are not expert in their field and their material is again suspect.


Failure to consider those matters dealt with in CIRIA 736 is a fundamental issue to be addressed by the applicant.  Their apparent failure to give consideration to this important aspect of the application should be looked into in case it is another area of inconvenient material that is “overlooked”.


The applicant does not appear to have given any consideration to the possible impact of surrounding businesses at the site and made plans to deal with issues that might arise.  If there is an incident at the plant those businesses will presumably be affected immediately.  Those businesses appear to have flammable materials in quite close proximity to the site.  The type of materials we are discussing are not such as to require flames to ignite.  Heat might be sufficient.  There is therefore risk from neighbours towards the plant (there was a serious fire in the Nissen huts quite recently and one can only wonder what the impact might have been on the plant) and risk that any incident at the plant will be exacerbated by secondary fires or explosions at the neighbours’ sites.


There seems to be no research into the possible effect on tourism for the town.  This is connected to health issues as the perceived impacts on health are what coach parties will consider when deciding e.g. whether to travel from Birmingham to either Barry Island or perhaps Weston Super Mare.  It might make a relatively deprived and therefore health hotspot area even more deprived etc. as the town’s tourism ambitions are hit again.


Waste wood is a generic term in the sense that it is wood with pollutants but they have not identified the types of additives and not therefore included the extra atmospheric pollutants that are to arise.  The likelihood is that any additional material above the waste wood is going to be more toxic and therefore of more concern.  It is after all what makes this plant an incinerator that dies not in fact rely on biomass no matter what the owner company decides to call itself.


The applicant and others refer to “receptors”.  Those of us living in the area prefer to talk about people as otherwise there is the possibility that some will not realise what is being discussed and the terminology does have the tendency to distract from the real discussion i.e. the health of those people living in the area.  As a consequence we find the applicant can disguise the fact that there are school receptors in his fire risk and plume areas.  Sorry, I mean that there are hundreds/thousands (?) of young school children and pre-school children in the area risk from the plumes and possible fire.  As it seems to be agreed that children are at increased risk when compared to adults the failure to deal with the impact on these “receptors” is a significant burying of the real situation.  It needs to be addressed.





On a similar issue it is noticeable that although the application demonstrates that babies who are breast fed are under greater threat from pollutants, the applicant does not deal with that in any detail but ignores children under 20 kg.  We have no idea whether there is an impact possible on unborn babies as although there are many health issues hinted at, this area is completely ignored.  We have seen other companies ignore the impact on the unborn to disastrous consequences.  These are impacts that ought to be addressed before progressing the application.  They are hardly concerns that will come as a surprise to the applicant.


Another area missing from the data that people want and need us missing 17 worst plume diagrams.  At figure 5 in the AQA we see the 18th worst example of the pollution plume.  We do need to see and must be entitled to see what the other 17 show.  People need to know what areas are impacted in what way in order to make informed objections to the application.  We would invite NRW to ensure that the missing worst examples are supplied and made available.  The 18th worst is bad enough and the pollution will be a worry for those living in the Buttrills area and through to the hospital and upper schools.


The knowledge is better than the unknown as it will inform people as to the reasons for some causes of ill health.


The AQA refers to Chromium VI at paragraph 5.35 and seems to suggest that further assessment is needed to deal with this.  In view of the carcinogenic nature of that chemical it would be good to know what further assessment has taken place – if any.  This is a pollutant that has had significant press over recent years and people can be expected to know if it and be worried by it.


The application deals with the impact on farming families but fails to take account of the significant allotment society we have in Barry with one allotment site at the end of Dock View Road.  These are people who will be growing and eating vegetables locally and in the main using rain water to irrigate.  Others will be growing on a lesser or even greater scale depending on their size of garden.  Are there plants they ought not to grow now?  Are some safer to grow than others? Certainly, they should not be marginalised to the point where they are ignored.  They do tend to feed themselves and children.  The allotment growers will tend to rely on rainwater and no attempt seems really to have been made to explain the potential impact on rain washing the pollutants out of the atmosphere onto our gardens and paths and roads… This is dust that when dried out will be at a level where it will be breathed in by all.


It may also be unfair to marginalise farmers in the way they have been.  They will need to sell their produce to somebody even if (notwithstanding the modern concern over food miles) the produce is sold elsewhere.  Is it so clear that their produce will not carry some additional stigma to the possible contamination when compared with produce from a less contaminated area?  There is no research into this – that has been disclosed.


An area where many are concerned is with the local weather and the failure to take account of the winds locally.  It is possible to gather material to show the local climate.  If the local climate were to be studied from the perspective of potential pollution then it is expected that e.g. the way in which pollution can be trapped under cloud cover will become apparent as it is a phenomenon that many have witnessed and commented upon.


The way in which the ownership changes with companies of low shareholder value (as happens with the ownership of this project) makes us question whether anybody involved at any stage might have a relevant conviction or have been a responsible officer when a company was prosecuted for suffering a significant pollution incident.  A brand-new company would obviously have the advantage of a good character search but this can be a device to avoid having to deal with the sort of incidents that have happened elsewhere and which have not been addressed anywhere.  The failure to address might be taken as a failure to learn.  We do not know the extent to which NRW can investigate such matters or keep the under review.  It is therefore something that makes the bona fides of a company applicant all the more important as a decision does have to be taken whether the “company” is a trusted person.  Disclosure of all relevant material is just one way of judging such matters


Dennis Clarke


8th May 2017





  • Schedule 5 Notice prepared by NRW for issue to the Applicant.
  • NRW will ensure that it is circulated to DIAG as an update to the application held in Barry Library and Barry Town Council Offices














































Andy Discussion Notes for NRW Meeting

Ladies & Gentlemen,

We have already discussed several major subjects this evening, but I would now like to raise some key observations concerning the fire risk and the pollution control effects in the event of a major incident. I am fully aware that NRW have been active in fire response incident scenario’s and working with the emergency services.

I would like to mention that I come from a global background of over 35 years in the Oil and Gas industry and the Energy Sector. In particular, the supply of products, systems and services for terminals, refineries and petrochemical plants where COMAH and DSEAR regulated Sites are mandatory.

I have associates who were key in the compilation of the Buncefield Report and the lessons learnt from this catastrophic accident. The Buncefield incident led to both revision of existing standards and formulation of new regulations in many areas in safety procedures, maintenance intervals, Inspection, risk assessments and the most important one covering major industrial fire response tactics and the aftermath caused during the clean-up and tertiary pollution control requirements. Buncefield had close receptors (business and public) and essential travel infrastructure to the site that were seriously affected by this.

The recycling plant major incident in Manchester this week also had a major response with adjacent (business and public) receptors and infrastructure (Power, Road & Rail) closures close to the scene. These are just two recent sites that have close receptors and potential infrastructure risks. There are others well published.

Looking at the Woodham road site concerned and the Accident Management plus the Fire Prevention plan documents provided by the applicants for the permit we believe that the following hasn’t been followed:

  • Formal Risk Assessment on the effect of a major incident with all receptors in the 1km fire risk zone.
  • The Fire Prevention report submitted by the applicant also makes comment that Fire Risk and DSEAR Assessment will be completed as detailed design / pre-operational condition for the EPA permit.
  • Layout of piles on site is only provisional and a comment that a detailed fire risk assessment is provided in Annex C (to be supplied prior to operation-suggested pre- operational condition)
  • The CIRIA C 736 regulations governing containment systems for the prevention of pollution. The Fire prevention plan makes reference to CIRIA C 164 but this is an obsolete and in effect an incomplete document. The Environment Agency guidance document; Fire prevention plan: environmental permits (issued 29th July 2016 and updated 9th November 2016 specifically refers to the use of CIRIA C 736). Section 4 Containment System capacity is a key section. This is a major failing by the applicant and should be noted by NRW and a reason not to issue an operating permit.


We do have major reservations that a formal fire risk assessment around the whole site, adjacent areas and the effect to local receptors was not carried out, and the question of the containment capacities and ability of the fire services to respond to a major incident.

We have no particular comments to make on the fire prevention system used within the main plant.


Andy East


8th May 2017



Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Application by Biomass UK No. 2 Ltd for a bespoke environmental permit for a waste wood gasification plant at Woodham Road, Barry, Ref:  PAN-000869

I am writing on behalf of Biofuelwatch, an organisation which carries out research, advocacy and campaigning in relation to large-scale industrial bioenergy (www.biofuelwatch.org.uk). We wish to object to Biomass UK No. 2 Ltd’s permit application on two grounds:

1)  Inefficient use of raw materials for energy generation;

2)  Lack of persuasive evidence about compliance with the Waste Hierarchy Principle.

We are aware of a range of other concerns which have been raised by local groups and residents, and of the critique of the permit application provided by Capita Property and Infrastructure Services on behalf of Barry Town Council. However, we have chosen to limit our comments to the two issues about which we can add additional information and comments, not raised in the Capita report.

In addition to the two grounds for our objection set out below, we would also like to point out that we have been unable to find evidence of the Outec gasification technology on which this project would rely having been successfully deployed anywhere so far. In the Outline Planning Application which was approved on 31st July 2015 and which forms the basis for this development, the developer (then Sunrise Renewables) stated, accompanied by a picture a pilot plant in Idaho:

It is proposed to replace the system detailed in the 2010 Permission manufactured by Prestige Thermal Equipment (which produced a 9 MW average net output) with an alternative system made by the globally established manufacturer Outotec (www.outotec.com). The Outotec technology is more efficient and will result in the average net output increasing to 10MW for the same amount of fuel input.[1]


Outotec is indeed an “established manufacturer”, but not of waste (including waste wood) gasifiers. It focuses on technologies and processes for the metal and mining industries. In the energy sector, Outotec focuses primarily on fluidised bed combustion plants. In 2012, Surrey Council commissioned Mott MacDonald to carry out a technology review for Advanced Thermal Treatment technologies (finalised August 2012)[2].

According to that report, Outotec’s gasification technology was developed

by Energy Products of Idaho (EPI), who were taken over by Outotec in January 2012. EPI had built one single test facility – the one in Idaho pictured in the planning document. The Mott MacDonald report states:


A test facility to accommodate various fuels, including biomass, tyres, municipal and paper sludges, carpet scraps, waste and industrial plastic was built to provide data suitable for design of full-scale process equipment. The plant in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was built in May 1986 and modifications have been made frequently to test new fuels and technology. EPI’s experience is primarily based on fluidised bed combustion, with fluidised bed gasification a newer area for the company.


Thus, the plant shown in the planning document is not an operating gasifier, but a test facility for different, mainly standard combustion, technologies. Although companies have entered into contracts to purchase Outotec gasification technology since then, we understand no gasifier using that technology has actually been operated for electricity generation so far.


1) Inefficient use of raw materials for energy generation

In the permitting application, Biomass UK No.2 Ltd acknowledges the need to maximise energy efficiency. It states:

The overall energy efficiency of the plant, even when in open cycle when taking account of ancillary uses, has been designed around to achieve 27.1% efficiency, which compares well with the 25% efficiency target stipulated for incineration processes.


If the development supported a district heat network or otherwise supplied heat, i.e. if it operated as an efficient combined heat and power plant, it could achieve far higher conversion efficiency, potentially above 70%.

However, we would like to question the accuracy of the claim that the plant could achieve 27.1% efficiency. We believe that this figure is based on an unrealistically low calorific value figure.

The design values cited in the permit application are:

  • Moisture content: 20%
  • Higher Heating Value for dry wood (gross calorific value): 19.599 MJ/kg
  • Lower Heating Value for wood as arrived: 14.275 MJ/kg


By comparison, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Wood Fuels Handbook[3] states:

The net calorific value (NCV) of oven-dry wood of different species varies within a very narrow interval, from 18.5 to 19 MJ per Kg. In conifers, it is 2 percent higher than in broad-leaved trees.


NCV is equivalent to Lower Heating Value (LHV). In the UK, almost all timber production consists of softwood, i.e. conifers[4]. Therefore, it would seem reasonable to assume the higher NCV figure of 19 MJ/k. This would translate into a NCV figure of 15.2 MJ/kg for wood with a 20% moisture content (not 14.275 MJ/kg).

According to the permit application, “The Installation will typically accept approximately 86,400 tonnes of mixed waste wood per annum, for the purpose of the generation of a synthetic gas which will be utilised in a steam turbine to produce renewable electricity with a continuous export capacity up to 10MWe”. Thus, the plant will gasify up to 18,400 tonnes of wood with an average 20% moisture content a year and continuously operate with 10 MWe capacity. The air quality document states that “The facility is designed to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days per year”, however given the need for maintenance, we assume a maximum operation of 8,000 hours a year (the most common figure used in air quality assessments for power plants that are expected to operate continuously).

We therefore calculate the plants net energy efficiency as follows, using the FAO’s NCV figure of 19 MJ/kg:

Energy input:

86,400 tpa of wood with an 80% moisture content = 69,120 tpa of oven dry waste wood.

69,120,000 kg x 19 MJ = 1,313,280,000 MJ = 1,313,280 GJ = 364.8 GWh

Net energy output:

10 MWe x 8,000 hours a year: 60 GWh


80 GWh is 21.93% of 364.8 GWh.

Therefore, the net efficiency of the plant would be less than 22%.

We have used Net Calorific Value rather than Gross Calorific Value for this calculation because that it is used for R1 calculations under the Waste

Framework Directive. However, Gross Calorific Values are higher, so using those would produce an even lower efficiency figure.

We note that the developer’s Sankey Diagram shows a net efficiency of 23.88%, which is far lower than the 27.1% efficiency claimed elsewhere in the permit application. However, in light of the above, we would question the fuel input figure used for the Sankey Diagram. We believe it the correct figure would be around 45.6 MWth, not 42.84 MWth.

We are baffled by the relevant figures in the Flow Sheet. The flowsheet states that 10.842 tonnes of waste wood would enter the plant every hour, with a small amount being removed as unusable for the process before entering the gasifier. Those figures suggest that the developer expects the plant to operate for 7,969 hours a year. The energy input figure is 42.92 MW (i.e. MWh/h). It is slightly higher than the figure used in the Sankey diagram. It coincides with a net calorific value of 14.25 MJ/kg for the waste wood entering the gasifier, or 14.22 MJ/kg for the waste wood entering the plant. Both figures are marginally lower than that cited elsewhere in the permit application, yet significantly lower than what we believe the correct figure to be. The electricity output, on the other hand, is given 36.83 GWh, which is 36,830 MWh. We can only assume that this is meant to be an annual figure. If was an annual figure, however, then the net efficiency of the plant would be a mere 10.76%:

36,830 MWh / 7,969 hours = 4.62 MW[h/h]

This is 10.76% of the hourly fuel energy input of 42.92 MW[h/h]

Clearly this cannot be accurate. It is less than half of the 21.93% net efficiency we estimate. The figures given in the Flow Sheet, in the Sankey Diagram, and in the main report are highly inconsistent.

A power plant with a net conversion efficiency of less than 22% is extremely inefficient. However, it corresponds with figures for other biomass and waste gasification proposals which we have seen, particularly those which rely on a steam turbine. For such a plant with a capacity of 10 MWe, a conversion efficiency of more than 27% without external heat supply would be extremely high.

Based on our estimates, we believe that the design of the proposed plant is not compatible with efficient use of resources. However, we believe that the developers should be required to supply new and consistent data about fuel input and output, and to give evidence to back up their choice of a Net Calorific Value input. 

2) Lack of persuasive evidence about compliance with the Waste Hierarchy Principle:

We believe that compliance with the Waste Hierarchy Principle is an important consideration for such a permit application.

Schedule 9 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 9 states: “4. The regulator must exercise its relevant functions— (a)for the purposes of implementing Article 4 of the Waste Framework Directive; and (b)so as to ensure that the records referred to in Article 14 of the Waste Framework Directive are kept and made available to the regulator on request.” Article 23 of the EU Waste Framework Directive says: “4. It shall be a condition of any permit covering incineration or co-incineration with energy recovery that the recovery of energy take place with a high level of energy efficiency.

The developer states: “All waste wood feedstocks will be prepared to meet the requirements of Waste Wood Grade B and Grade C (Fuel Grade) materials as defined by BSI PAS 111 Processing Waste Wood”. According to that definition[5], Grade B waste wood is “a feedstock for industrial wood processing operations, such as the manufacture of panel products, including chipboard and medium density fibreboard.” And Grade C waste wood is “biomass fuel for use in the generation of electricity and/or heat”. However, typical Grade B materials “may contain up to 60% Grade A material as above, plus building and demolition materials and domestic furniture made from solid wood.” Typical Grade C materials contain “all of the above plus fencing products, flat pack furniture made from board products and DIY materials. High content of panel products such as chipboard, MDF, plywood, OSB and fibreboard.” Grade A waste wood is “a feedstock for the manufacture of professional and consumer products such as animal bedding and horticultural mulches. May also be used as fuel for renewable energy generation in non-WID installations, and for the manufacture of pellets and briquettes.” In short, the feedstock which Biomass UK No.1 LLP seek to use includes all types of waste wood (except for those classed as ‘hazardous’), much of it in high demand for the production of wood panel products, animal bedding and horticultural uses. All of those uses qualify as ‘recycling’ and are thus higher up the Waste Hierarchy than energy recovery.

Compliance with the Waste Hierarchy Principle is not addressed in the permit application. As part of the planning application which was subsequently approved, the then developer, Sunrise Renewables, had submitted a document called “Waste Disposal Status of the Project”. In that document, the company claimed that the plant would not be regulated by the Waste Framework Directive and that it did not fall within the definition of a “Waste Incineration Installation”.

The permit application, however, rightly states: “The proposed process meets the definition of an Installation as defined by Section 5.1 ‘Incineration and CoIncineration of Waste’ paragraph A(1)(b) namely: ‘The incineration of nonhazardous waste in a waste incineration plant or waste co-incineration plant with a capacity exceeding 3 tonnes per hour.’” Elsewhere, it acknowledges that the development does fall within the scope of the Waste Framework Directive.

The Planning Officer’s report had agreed with us and other objectors that the development would need to meet the Waste Hierarchy principle. The report stated, however: “In this instance, the developer has provided additional information, attached to this report as Appendix D that identifies that the energy recovery at the proposed plant would be efficient enough to meet the efficiency levels set out under the R1 formula. Accordingly, the proposal complies with the efficiency set out in TAN21 to be considered a recovery plant rather than a Waste Disposal.”

Yet the R1 calculation relied on the same net calorific value figure for energy inputs which we have critiqued above. We therefore do not think that the results could have been credible. This means that it is not clear whether the plant could be regarded as an energy recovery as opposed to a waste disposal operation. Even if it was an energy recovery operation, accurate information about the likely net calorific value of the waste wood would be needed for a comparison with recycling options in terms of greenhouse gas impacts.

This is another reason why we believe NRW must require the developer to supply credible evidence for their choice of a Net Calorific Value figure as well as accurate and consistent energy efficiency calculations, which should inform a greenhouse gas impact comparison with other forms of waste treatment.


Yours sincerely,


Almuth Ernsting




May 2017


[1] Waste Planning Assessment, dated 17th June, vogonline.planningregister.co.uk/PlaRecord.aspx?AppNo=2015/00031/OUT  

[2] whatdotheyknow.com/request/153450/response/379390/attach/3/Mott%20MacDonald%20Technical%20Rev iew%20pt%201.pdf and https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/153450/response/379402/attach/3/Mott%20MacDonald%20Tec hnical%20Review%20pt%202.pdf  

[3] http://www.fao.org/3/ai4441e.pdf  

[4] https://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/Ch2_Timber_FS2016.pdf/$FILE/Ch2_Timber_FS2016.pdf  

[5] www.woodrecyclers.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/04/PAS111.pdf 

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