A comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (‘EIA’) is currently being undertaken by our team of specialist consultants at Axis PED. It will be reported on within an Environmental Statement which will be submitted in support of the planning application. It will cover all environmental aspects required by the local authority and Statutory Consultees for an EIA based planning application.
One significant concern whenever an energy project is proposed, involving the burning of material to generate electricity, is over emissions – what’s going to come out of the chimney that might affect the local environment? All industrial emissions nowadays are controlled by law in the shape of the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive, rigorously enforced in the UK by the Environment Agency (‘EA’).
For health reasons, this Directive lays down strict limits for a range of unwanted substances, such as combustion gases and particulates, that cannot be exceeded. Sensors must be fitted to boiler flues which are used to monitor emissions on a continual basis. Using telemetry, the EA does this remotely from the site and can therefore check readings at any time to ensure compliance. Records of emissions are kept which can also be checked and analysed.
The Directive’s requirements are managed through an EA Permit and the EA has the right to stop operations immediately if there were an infringement of that permit. With the huge capital investment (£230M) and very high operating costs, no plant operator can afford that to happen.
Prevention of dust and smells
Dust and smells can be a particularly sensitive issue. The waste feedstock at the Graythorp Energy Centre will be handled in such a way that they will not become a problem.
The dry post recycling/sorted waste from industrial and household sources will be transported to the Centre in covered vehicles to prevent any of it escaping en route. On arrival on site, vehicles will enter a delivery hall through entrance and exit systems which close behind them. Once inside, drivers will deposit their loads into a fuel hopper serving the boiler furnaces. There will be no storage of any fuel outside of the Centre’s buildings.
Negative air pressure will be continuously maintained in the fuel delivery hall to prevent any dust or smells from leaving the building as vehicle access doors open and close. The extracted air will be fed into the combustion chamber so that it is continually cleaned of odours and particles before being released from the flue gas treatment plant into the plant flues.
A loading bay for removing ash will be operated in a similar way, with negative air pressure maintained throughout operations. The air extracted in both areas will be expelled through the furnace combustion chambers and flues.
Due to its location within an industrial area with industrial estates to the east and south, railway and steelworks to the north and a tank farm installation to the west, the project will have a low visual impact on local residential areas.
The Application Site is located around 1km from the southern edge of the town of Seaton Carew. The main built up area of Hartlepool is located circa 1.6km to the north west of the site, the village of Greatham is located circa 1.8km west of the site, while the settlement of Billingham is located circa 4.6km to the west of the site. The nearest residential property is a single, isolated dwelling associated with a chicken farm, which is located approximately 130m south east of the site boundary.
By applying ‘Best Available Techniques’ in its engineering design – an approach endorsed by the Environment Agency – the new Centre will conform to the strict environmental standards for noise emission that will be laid down in a planning consent and the operating permit.
The key operational activities of the plant – fuel handling, operation of the combustion plant and the turbine/generator – will all take place within enclosed building areas which allows effective noise control technology and systems to be employed.
Wildlife and Ecology
A comprehensive ecological assessment will be undertaken, the results of which will be reported within the Environmental Statement, which will be submitted in support of the planning application. The ecology assessment will include:
Surveys of habitats and wildlife at the site;
Assessment of air quality impacts on European Protected Sites;
Assessment of effect on national and internationally designated sites.
The Site is not directly constrained by any statutory or non-statutory ecological designations, nor does it contain or form part of any designated heritage asset such as a Scheduled Monument or Listed Buildings. However, there are a range of statutory ecological designations associated with the Tees Estuary and land alongside the estuary. The closest being the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve, Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Special Protection Area (SPA), Ramsar and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Redcar Rocks SSSI, and the Seatons Dunes and Common SSSI, all of which are located approximately 1km to the east of the Site.
A comprehensive assessment of drainage and flood risk will be undertaken, the results of which will be reported within the Environmental Statement, which will be submitted in support of the planning application.
The Application Site lies wholly within Flood Zone 1 (as defined by the Environment Agency) and is therefore not considered to be at risk of flooding. The scheme would incorporate a Sustainable Drainage System (SuDs) including surface water drainage attenuation which would ensure that it would not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere.