Frequently Asked Questions

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What is an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF)?

An ERF is a small power station that uses non-hazardous residual (post-recycling) waste as fuel. There are around 24 facilities already operating in the UK and hundreds more across Europe.

Why is the Beddington ERF being built?

Following a competitive, transparent and robust process that was monitored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the South London Waste Partnership identified Viridor’s proposal as the one which offered the best and most economically advantageous solution. 

The South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) – Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton – handles in the region of 300,000 tonnes of total waste every year – a mixture of residual and recyclable waste. The waste which cannot be re-used or recycled has traditionally been buried in engineered landfill sites. Landfill, however, is deemed a lost opportunity for energy recovery and is increasingly costly. 

Both the UK and the European Union have brought in tough rules, backed by financial penalties, to reduce the amount of waste disposed of in landfill. The authorities’ landfill tax bill rose to over £18.5 million for 2014/15, and the Beddington landfill is due to close, so alternative arrangements need to be found. 

To improve the environment, the South London Waste Partnership is committed to reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. It aims to achieve this goal through encouraging waste reduction, recycling and by managing the remaining waste more effectively. 

Once all recyclable and compostable material has been removed, the remaining waste has to be disposed of as safely and cleanly as possible. Viridor already provides essential recycling services for local authorities and businesses on the Beddington site. The Beddington ERF is designed to complement high levels of recycling, supporting the Partnership’s commitment in encouraging the community to reduce the waste they produce and to increase recycling.

The Partnership has chosen Viridor to handle the residual waste coming from the partner boroughs for a 25-year period. The ERF will reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

This project will move South London up the ‘waste hierarchy’ and, compared to landfill, it will cut carbon emissions by 128,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

Where will waste for the ERF come from?

At present over 185,000 tonnes of residual waste that can’t be recycled from households in Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton is landfilled. This will provide the majority of the inputs to Beddington ERF, the remainder will be waste from businesses.

Is the recycling removed before the waste is taken to the facility?

Each of the boroughs operates a separate recycling collection service for municipal waste. Once the recycling has been collected the remaining residual ‘black bag’ waste will be the source of feed stock for the facility. 

Waste arriving at the facility will be regularly checked to ensure it is meeting the specification required to fuel the facility. Any material that does not meet the specification will be rejected and disposed of at an appropriate facility.

How much energy will the ERF generate?

The ERF will be designed to produce 26 megawatts of electricity – enough to power the facility itself plus 30,000 homes. We are currently exploring opportunities for exporting heat from the plant to nearby developments. The heat and electricity generated will help towards the Mayor of London target to achieve 25% of London’s energy supply from decentralised energy sources by 2025.

How does an ERF work?

Energy recovery facilities use a technology that sees waste burned at high temperatures under carefully controlled conditions. The process is extremely efficient, robust and safe. Emissions are treated to meet required standards under the stringent European Industrial Emissions Directive, which is strictly enforced and monitored by the Environment Agency.

The electricity that ERFs produce is fed into the National Grid and the heat can be utilised locally, presenting opportunities for additional commercial development and improving resource efficiency.

The process also produces bottom ash (the bulk of remaining materials after combustion), which can be recycled for use as aggregate material in the construction industry and Air Pollution Control (APC) residue which is either recycled or safely disposed of at licensed facilities. 

The technology used at ERFs is well established across Europe, working alongside high recycling rates they help to meet landfill diversion targets. 

Energy from waste in all its forms already accounts for 2% of UK electricity supply. By 2020 it could account for 6% of total UK electricity. 

For more detailed information on how an ERF facility works, download our brochure

How visible will the ERF be from nearby properties?

A full landscape and visual impact assessment was completed as part of the planning application that was approved by the Planning Authority.

Other factors which were fully considered as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment include traffic, noise, odours, air quality and emissions, environmental and health protection, archaeology and ecology.

All of the planning applications and permits can be viewed by clicking here

When will the ERF be up and running?

The facility is due to be completed in 2018.

How high will the chimney be?

The stack, or chimney, will be 95 metres high.

The height has been determined as a result of an extensive air quality and dispersion modelling assessment and is set to ensure that any impacts upon human health and ecological interests are minimised.

Will the facility produce emissions?

The process is extremely efficient, robust and safe. Emissions are treated to meet required standards under the stringent European Industrial Emissions Directive, which is strictly enforced and monitored by the Environment Agency. A recently published Health Protection Agency report stated that 'modern, well-managed incinerators make only a small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants' and that any potential health impacts, if they exist, are likely to be very small and not detectable. 

The facility will require an Environmental Permit in order to operate. This will require compliance with the requirements of all necessary standards protecting health and the environment. 

The facility will be closely monitored by the Environment Agency to ensure that it meets the strict emissions criteria set out in the European Union’s Industrial Emissions Directive. In fact, in the case of NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), the limits at Beddington will be stricter than the European Industrial Emissions Directive limits. 

Viridor's compliance will be regulated by the Environment Agency on a continual basis.

How safe is the ERF and will there be any health risks?

The technology is modern, safe and proven. Viridor currently operates seven ERFs in the UK, with four under construction. Across Europe, there are more than 400 ERFs in operation. 

A recently published Health Protection Agency report stated that 'modern, well-managed incinerators make only a small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants' and that any potential health impacts, if they exist, are likely to be very small and not detectable.

The facility will require an Environmental Permit in order to operate. This will require compliance with the requirements of all necessary standards protecting health and the environment. 

The facility will be closely monitored by the Environment Agency to ensure that it meets the strict emissions criteria set out in the European Union’s Industrial Emissions Directive. In fact, in the case of NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), the limits at Beddington will be stricter than the European Industrial Emissions Directive limits. 

Viridor's compliance will be regulated by the Environment Agency on a continual basis.

Why was this site chosen?

Viridor’s Beddington site is currently home to major recycling and composting facilities that provide essential recycling services to the South London Waste Partnership authorities and local businesses. 

There is a large landfill operation where non-recyclable waste from the Waste Partnership and local businesses is landfilled. The site is also close to the centre of the four authorities that make up the Waste Partnership which helps minimise vehicle mileage.

Beddington Lane is a busy industrial area dominated by warehouses, a large sewage treatment works, other waste management operations and transport depots.

Will there be new jobs created when the ERF is operational?

The ERF will deliver significant local investment and create 40 permanent jobs once it is operational, as well as many more during the construction phase.

How to get involved

The Beddington ERF will deliver significant community benefits. During the construction phase there will be hundreds of jobs and supply chain opportunities created and, once completed, a further 40 permanent jobs are required to run the facility. There will also be the need for materials, skills and expertise. Viridor is keen to ensure that the local community, businesses and residents have the opportunity to benefit from this and become suppliers or employees of the project. 

Viridor hosted a ‘Meet The Buyer’ event in 2015 and over 50 local businesses and trades attended to learn more about the materials and resources required during the construction and operations of the ERF. Viridor has also partneredwith local football club, Sutton United to share updated from the project and supply chain opportunities with the business network. if any lcoal business would like more infomation about how they can get involved with the project, please email communications@viridor.co.uk 

Community funding and benefits

Viridor is wholly committed to the local area and to delivering further community benefits. Over the course of the construction and operation of the facility the following initiatives will be delivered:

Community fund: A community fund of an initial £250,000 will be established for local community projects. This will be followed by annual payments of £25,000 for the 25 years of the contract. An additional lump sum payment of £100,000 (index linked) will be made available by the end of 2024. A panel is being established to consider applications and to distribute the funding. More information on how to apply for community funding will be communicated soon. 

Viridor is keen to play its role in supporting regeneration in South London. In particular, the landfill restoration that will be accelerated as result of our new ERF will make an important contribution to realising the shared vision for a sustainable and high quality regional park in the Wandle Valley, and Viridor has agreed to a number of financial commitments that will support this vision. 

Site Liaison Group: Viridor has previously operated a community liaison group relating to our current operations and this will recommence to cover ERF and other site operations with regular meetings throughout the year. The group will discuss the progress of the construction and have the opportunity to feed back any observations or concerns from the local residents and communities that they represent. 

Conservation Management: Viridor works in partnership with Beddington Farm Bird Group, MKA Ecology and other conservation experts to provide an enhanced habitat for birds and wildlife to thrive. 

Support for local businesses: Viridor is an active member of the South London Business Group and sponsor of the Best Green Business Award. Viridor is also supportive of the Beddington Business Improvement District (BID) and is part of the BID Steering Group.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) group:  Viridor is working with Sutton council to set up a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) working group that will help build on the potential to provide heat to the local area. Viridor will provide a financial contribution towards the establishment and work of this group. The precise remit of the group is still to be determined; however we anticipate that it will: 

–      Promote the use of heat from the ERF to potential heat users

–      Investigate how to address issues such as provision of off-site infrastructure

–      Help to secure heat contracts

-      Education and visitor centre: Viridor will develop an education and visitor centre within the ERF building to provide local residents and school groups with an opportunity to learn about:

–      Waste prevention, recycling and resource management in the SLWP area

–      The ERF

–      Historic uses at the wider restored site

–      Nature conservation objectives and restored wildlife habitats

–      the Wandle Valley Regional Park

Wildlife warden: Viridor will fund the employment of a wildlife warden to oversee the restored site, including the provision of accommodation at the proposed education centre.

Air quality monitoring: To ensure that the ERF continues to meet the highest standards, Viridor has agreed to provide funding to the London Borough of Sutton for the operation of an air quality monitoring station in the vicinity of the site. 

Sustainable transport: Further to the requirements in the London Borough of Sutton’s Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning Document, further support will be offered towards sustainable transport in the area. 

Improving public access and securing additional land for nature conservation: Viridor is seeking agreement with Thames Water to secure land in the Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) area to the south west of the site. Should an agreement be reached, Viridor has agreed to provide of an additional public access route from the restored land through to Beddington Lane. 

A section of land located within the area known as 100 Acres will also be offered, subject to agreement with Thames Water, for nature conservation management. What’s more, Viridor will provide an additional amount to the existing bond established for future management of the restored lands. 

As a business in the community, we remain committed to community partnerships and hope to build stronger relationships over the coming years.

Who will build the ERF?

Viridor will work with a number of contactors and specialists to complete the construction of the ERF. The key project partners are: 

Viridor – Overall owner and operator once complete

South London Waste Partnership – Project commissioner, partner and source of residual waste 

CNIM/ Lagan – technology, engineering and construction partners 

Fichtner – engineering partners

When will restoration of the Beddington landfill take place?

The landfill site is being progressively restored with works already underway. Various phases of the landfill will be made available for public access as they become complete.

As part of the ERF application, the Restoration Aftercare and Management Plan (RAMP) has been enhanced against that which was previously agreed in association with the landfill.

What measures have been taken to mitigate the decline in bird numbers on the site of the Beddington ERF?

As part of the planning application for the ERF, Viridor have been required to submit and receive approval from the local planning authority, a Habitat Management Scheme (planning condition six) and Tree Sparrow Management Plan (planning condition seven) which detail how we will manage habitats and nesting birds throughout the construction phase and once the facility is fully operational.

How is the 128,000 CO2 saving calculated?

The workings for the calculation behind the CO2 saving can be found in the Need assessment and carbon balance report on pages 47, 51 and 57 via the Viridor website

Contact Points and Community Liaison Groups

We are always happy to answer any technical questions about our current operations and the ERF or wider site. 

Updates on the construction project, copies of community newsletters and all documentation relating to the project can be found on the Viridor website www.viridor.co.uk/beddington-erf

As mentioned earlier, Viridor hosts a regular community liaison group. The group consists of a cross-section of local society, chosen to represent those who have an interest in the area. Individuals are invited from local councils and wards, neighbourhood development groups, Environment Agency, Environmental Health and nature groups. The group will also contain Viridor personnel representing areas such as operations, communications and engineering. 

Alternatively, please send your comments to:

Viridor Communications

105 Beddington Lane

Beddington

Croydon

Surrey

CR0 4TD

Email: beddingtonerf@viridor.co.uk

Web: www.viridor.co.uk/beddington-erf

Twitter: @TalkERF_SLondon

To report an incident, a complaint or compliment, please call our freephone customer care line on 0800 975 3029 (24 hours, 7 days a week) or visit www.viridor.co.uk/feedback.

Discussion Forum


  • Do you accept soils at Beddington Landfill? If so what are the upper limits of the chemical analysis that you accept for both non contaminated and contaminated.

    For information about landfill operations please ring the site office on 020 8684 4100.
    More

    What is the end destination use of the glass that you will collect from the four boroughs when you commence your new waste contract?

    Viridor does not collect and will not be collecting waste from households. Each borough member of the South London Waste Partnership collect...
    More

    What will the majority of the waste through the chimneys be? Will this be a think black smoke, white or clear? Would this depend on the waste being burned? Can anything be done to reduce the visual impact of smoke from the chimneys. Regards

    First of all, only non-hazardous residual waste would be processed by the site. In response to your question, the output from the stack (chi...
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    Is there any opportunity being missed to create jobs, given we in a recession - see link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/sep/14/recycling-jobs-england?

    No. The recycling and waste management sector has been creating job opportunities whilst helping the UK become more resource efficient and e...
    More

    How many times a year will external assessors come and check the content of the emissions from the chimney?

    The Environment Agency will carry out a continued assessment of plant operations and its environmental performance. This will include regula...
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