Q What impact will this facility have on the environment?
The facility will not be granted planning consent unless it can be demonstrated that it will not have a significant impact to the environment. It is the responsibility of the applicant for any facility to demonstrate this to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority, which consults a number of other organisations (such as the Environment Agency) to ask for their opinion on the application.
The accepted method for an applicant to illustrate the effects of any facility is to perform an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Q What is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)?
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process that assesses the potential effects on the environment of a proposed development or project. If the likely effects are unacceptable, measures in design or other mitigation can be put in place to reduce or avoid those effects. If this is not possible, then the development will not be allowed to proceed.
The potential environmental effects are systematically studied and include visual impact, traffic, air quality, noise, dust, odour, the effect on human health and flood risk to the site (amongst others).
Q Who does the EIA and how do you ensure it is independent?
The EIA is prepared by professional technical specialists, who are subject to the professional and ethical standards of their relevant industry body. The EIA is then peer reviewed by other environmental advisors who are a corporate member of IEMA (The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment).
The findings of the EIA are reviewed by the relevant technical specialists within the Local Planning Authority and also subject to comment by the statutory consultees (i.e. Natural England, Historic England, Highways England, etc.). It is also open to public scrutiny.
Q What about the visual impact? Would the plant be visible from miles away?
The visual impact of the proposed facility is being evaluated as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment, and it will accompany the planning application when this is submitted. Part of the assessment process is intended to gauge and minimise the overall visual impact, by adapting the design of the building to the surroundings.
Further information will be released as it becomes available.
Q How much traffic will there be? How many heavy good vehicles will be coming and going?
It is anticipated that RDF will be delivered to the site via a combination of residual waste collection vehicles (RCVs) which will typically be 18 to 22 tonnes (gross weight) or articulated bulk haulage vehicles from nearby RDF transfer stations. The REC is expected to generate up to 90 heavy goods vehicle (HGVs) movements per day, which is the equivalent of 38 deliveries per day to site. In addition there would be about 7 deliveries and collections of processing materials and residues per day. There would also be car journeys associated with approximately 20 staff working in a three- shift pattern. The industrial warehouse would also generate some traffic movements with 9 HGV movements per day and 34 other vehicle movements, such as vans or cars.
Q What measures are being taken to avoid creating traffic jams or more congestion?
Traffic analysis showed the numbers of vehicles servicing the REC and the warehouse would not have a significant impact on the road network, and would be unlikely to increase the risk of accidents. Recognising that traffic is a serious concern for many people, the proposals have taken into account both construction and operational traffic and put forward mitigation measures, such as a Construction Traffic Management Plan. Once the facility is operational, a Travel Plan for staff and visitors will be in place to minimize the number of vehicle movements. HGV deliveries are expected to be spread evenly throughout the 12 hour period and there is unlikely to be a peak in movements. However, , if necessary, deliveries may be pre-booked into the plant prior and scheduled to avoid busy times during the morning and evening.
Q What are the proposed routes to and from the facility? Can delivery vehicles take short cuts?
Vehicles will use the public highway from A420 to Thornhill Road, and then route onto the privately owned industrial estate roads to the Keypoint site.
Q Has rail been considered for bringing in the RDF?
This is not a practical or economically viable option, specifically when the majority of RDF is anticipated to be sourced from Swindon and the wider area. Rail was considered for the import of residual waste materials. However, investigations identified that the rail spur to the east is at full capacity. It also concluded that the proposed REC facility would source most of its residual waste from the wider Swindon area so the use of rail links would not be a practical transport solution, as it would still involve collection vehicles on the local highway network, travelling to/from any rail terminal. Similarly, waste loading facilities need to be available from where the waste arises and since the waste may come from several different sources, this is not cost effective. Finally, the waste may arise from different places as contracts change, so building rail infrastructure is no guarantee that it can be used in the future.
Q What are the delivery and collection hours proposed for the facility?
Monday to Fridays – 7am to 7pm
Saturday – 7am to 2pm
Sundays – None
Q What about the other traffic on the road, such as the new housing development and schools. Does the EIA take into account these proposed new developments too?
Other traffic on the road has been considered, so the proposals have looked at the combined impact of the proposed development along the Eastern Villages urban extension alongside the plans for the REC. The Eastern Villages development has its own conditions attached to improve traffic flow, such as upgraded road junctions. These improvements will assist both the REC as well as the Eastern Villages so that no additional interventions are required.
Q Does the EIA take into account proposed new developments too?
Yes. New developments must be considered as part of the cumulative impacts assessment. The traffic flows from any new development which has already obtained planning consent (even though it may not yet have been constructed) must be taken into account in the traffic impact assessment process, as if the development were already up and working.
Q More traffic means more diesel fumes. What will be done to ensure that the air quality is not affected by the facility?
The results of the Air Quality Assessment, based on predicted traffic generated from the proposed development and other nearby development such as the Eastern Villages, has indicated that air quality would not be significantly adversely affected as it represents only a minor increase to the overall traffic in the local area.
Q What noise can be expected?
The Noise Assessment shows that whilst some noise is to be expected, the industrial setting means that it is unlikely to impact on residential properties. The A471 dual carriageway is between the site and residential area of Stratton to the west whilst a combination of industrial buildings/rail screen the village of South Marston (to the north-east) and isolated properties on Thornhill Road, and those residential properties to the south of the A420 (south of site). North of the site is the Honda Plant and test track.
Q Will it be noisy during construction?
Noise will always be kept to a minimum but the industrial setting means that construction noise is unlikely to be heard over existing industrial processes by neighbouring communities.
Q What about odour?
The facility is very unlikely to cause any detectable odour issues.
There will be no outside storage of material.
For the gasification plant, the RDF is unloaded within a closed reception hall, with fast acting roller shutter doors which are kept shut (except to let delivery vehicles in and out). The reception hall is maintained at a negative air pressure by use of air intake fans located within the hall itself. These fans channel the air through ductwork to the gasification chamber, where it is used to burn the synthetic gas, which has been generated as part of the process. As a result, any odours are destroyed within the gasification chamber.
Q Does the process extract water from or discharge water into waterways?
No. The gasification process does not take water from or discharge water into any waterways, as it is a closed loop system.