Getting rid of unwanted waste is not as simple as putting out the bin for collection or handing it over to a rubbish removal team. Once the rubbish leaves our homes, it has to go somewhere, and it is not always easy for everyone to agree where it should be sent. Ideally, we want to get rid of our rubbish in a clean, safe and environmentally friendly manner, but we also have to think about how much it costs to handle different kinds of waste, and where our disposal facilities will be located. It is very easy to say that our garden waste and wood should be taken to a biomass facility where it can be turned into green electricity, but it is far less easy to decide where this facility should be placed, and who should end up living next to it. Nevertheless, rubbish has to go somewhere, and as we try to live greener lifestyles and find alternatives to tips and landfill sites as they reach their limits, we do have to choose locations for new recycling and waste processing facilities.
Permission has just been given in the form of an environmental permit for one such facility in Potters Crouch, near St Albans. The site, which already played a role in rubbish removal in a former life as Wood Recycling Services, will now be converted by Navitas Environmental into a biomass facility processing up to 86,000 tonnes of dry wood waste collected by rubbish removal services from across Hertfordshire every year. The £60 million development will create 30 new jobs, as well as employing about 150 people during construction. It will generate 12 mega watts of renewable energy, which is enough power to supply electricity to 17,000 homes.
The company intends to work closely with the local community to avoid any conflict, and hopes that the development will be seen as an improvement for the rubbish removal site, which has stood unused for some time. Locals, along with St Albans’ MP Anne Main, have raised concerns about the project because of the previous mismanagement of the site that led to a serious fire in 2012, but the Environment Agency has confirmed that restrictions will be placed on the amount of material that can be stored at the site, preventing similar incidents from occurring again.