Joint ORG and Biogas Sector Group meeting and Site visit to GENeco

Blue skies and sunshine welcomed REA members to the recent combined ORG and Biogas sector group meeting, which was kindly hosted by GENeco, part of Wessex Water. GENeco is a recycling and renewable energy company created out of their parent company Wessex Water in 2008. Treating over 700,000 tonnes of varied waste per annum including food, liquid and solid wastes including all of Bristol’s poo!


There were over 40 members in attendance at the event keen to hear what regulatory changes were afoot and what impact this was likely to have on their businesses in the future. Alexander Maddan, Chairman of the ORG sector group welcomed members to this inaugural combined ORG/Biogas meeting and also informed members that he was shortly to be stepping down from the position of Chair of ORG after five years as he takes up the challenge of Chairing the REA's Policy Board, a challenge indeed!


Dr Kiara Zennaro who heads up the Biogas SG opened the morning’s discussion by providing an overview of the current policy landscape within renewables and the continued uncertainty that is making investors very nervous at this time.


Jeremy Jacobs covered a number of topics with the first addressing the landspreading debate and the concerns industry has over the tightening of deployment applications by the EA. There was consensus within the room that it was becoming increasingly harder to get deployments accepted. Industry require consistency of regulation and clarity of information if they are to compete on a level playing field with others in the industry. Jeremy also shared the recent news that the EA will be providing quarterly feedback to those companies involved in deployment applications a newsletter from the National Permitting Service (NPS), titled ‘Landspreading the News’.  This short summary will include a resume of the NPLs performance and determination times, an often criticised activity which impacts on operators directly. The REA welcome this initiative from the EA.


The next presentation  came from Paul Fernee, Senior advisor at the EA on hazardous waste transfer. Although not directly involved in biowaste, his news was in connection to the forthcoming Strategic Review of Charges (SRoC) and the news was not good! There are to be significant increases in charges made across the waste sector for permits and subsistence charges. The figure that was most significant was that for waste deployments. Currently this is £730/deployment and this is proposed to rise to between £1700-2,500/deployment. There will be a public consultation on the SRoC commencing in November and this will be open for six weeks. We will circulate it when available, PLEASE respond both to the ORG but also to the EA directly!


Jeremy also provided an update on the Waste Treatment BREF and the PAS 100 revision. The morning was concluded with a discussion on feedstock contamination from plastics. This continues to be a significant area of concern for the sector with little sign of improvement declared by operators. There is however some excellent examples of partnership working where a collaborative approach has been taken to improve feedstock quality and Corby Council was cited as one such example where they are working with Material Change and Kier (the collection company) to reduce contamination. If you have any examples of collaborative working to improve feedstock quality, please let me know.


After an excellent buffet lunch, members were given an overview of the sites activity and GENeco’s involvement with the local community in Bristol to raise awareness of the impact of recycling, their work in this area has won a number of awards and recognition on a National level.  A tour of the facility was much appreciated by all and It was evident that continued investment on site continues to drive innovation and a commitment to improve their facilities and impact on the natural environment. This site operates a nil waste to landfill policy which is an excellent achievement.


Thank you once again to all the staff at GEneco for their time and effort in making this day possible, your openness and hospitality was much appreciated.


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