Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is Boston Alternative Energy Facility?
A. Boston Alternative Energy Facility is a state-of-the-art power generating plant that would generate approximately 102 MW of renewable energy using refuse derived fuel, which comes from residual (‘black bag’) household waste. Approximately 80 MW of the generated power will be exported to the national grid, with the remainder being used by the facility.
The facility will use gasification to generate power. Gasification is a well established and efficient process to turn refuse derived fuel into energy.
Boston Alternative Energy Facility will contribute to the shortfall in the UK’s renewable energy capacity; and will also provide a sustainable management of the UK’s non-recyclable waste.
Q. Who is AUBP?
A. Alternative Use Boston Projects Ltd (AUBP) is a privately-owned project delivery company.
AUBP’s core business is delivering renewable electricity projects producing “Green Energy”.
Provenance and experience of Royal Haskoning DHV FAQs
Q. What is the background of Royal Haskoning DHV? Where else does it operate and what is their track record elsewhere?
A. Royal Haskoning DHV is an independent, international engineering and project management consultancy with 135 years of experience. Backed by the expertise and experience of more than 6,000 colleagues worldwide, our professionals combine global expertise with local knowledge to deliver a multidisciplinary range of consultancy services for the entire living environment from over 150 countries.
Royal Haskoning DHV has experience of delivering the DCO for several national significant infrastructure projects recently.
Gasification Technology / Electricity FAQs
Q. What is gasification?
A. Gasification is identified in National Policy Statement EN-3 as one of a number of renewable energy processes which use the biomass in waste material. This involves the creation of a chemical conversion using a restricted oxygen supply. This converts the carbon-based materials in the RDF feedstock into a synthetic gas (syngas). The syngas is a fuel, which is turned into electricity by recovering heat in a boiler. The process of producing the syngas does not involve combustion, so the facility is not an incinerator. Gasification is more efficient and cleaner than mass-burn incineration, and has the additional benefit of creating a useful product – energy.
Q. What is the appetite for a gasification plant of this size?
A. The UK Government is supportive of projects that use gasification. This is addressed in the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN-1) and the National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3).
There is a national shortfall of renewable energy and the Boston Alternative Energy Facility will help fill that gap.
Currently, over three million tonnes of refuse derived fuel exported to Europe to facilities that generate power from it so the UK is not benefitting from this valuable resource. The Boston Alternative Energy Facility will be using this material to generate energy for the UK.
A briefing published in 2017 by the Environmental Services Association reported that by 2030 there will be more non-recyclable waste than the UK can deal with: there could be 6 m tonnes per year more waste than can be managed.
The UK is likely to fail to reach the 15% renewable energy target that it has set for 2020. Boston Alternative Energy Facility will be an important boost to the UK’s renewable energy production beyond the 2020 requirement.
Q. How many tonnes of material will be used to generate power?
A. The gasification facility will generate power from approximately one million tonnes of processed refuse derived fuel.
Q. How much electricity will be created by the facility? Where/ How will this be used?
A. The facility will have a generating capacity of 102 Mega Watts (MW).
Some of this will be used to power the facility, leaving approximately 80 MW net to be exported into the grid for distribution by Western Power Distribution, the electricity utility provider in the region.
Q. Where will the grid connection be?
A. The grid connection will be on the site and the substation infrastructure that will enable the connection of the facility to the grid will be part of the plant on site. The location of the substation is currently planned to be in the southern part of the development. A site layout can be found in the Phase Three PID materials and on the project website.
Q. Why are you proposing to use gasification technology?
A. Gasification-based systems offer significant environmental advantages over other technologies, particularly other waste-to-energy systems that use incineration.
The process also delivers environmental benefits compared to landfill, and contributes to Government sustainable energy targets.
Gasification is more environmentally friendly, and economically beneficial because it generates more power generation per tonne of waste. In addition gasification plants produce lower quantities of air pollutants compared to incineration facilities.
Also, the process reduces the environmental impact of waste disposal because it both avoids landfill and produces renewable energy.
Q. Gasification technology isn’t proven/ established in the UK – other facilities have not been permitted or advanced as far as becoming operational
A.Gasification is a proven technology and has been used around the world on a variety of fuel or feedstock (including RDF) some time. It is now being implemented more widely because the technology has improved to increase the scale of operation.
The gasification provider will provide the gasification technology for the Boston Alternative Energy Facility. They have seven gasification facilities using a variety of fuel close to commissioning in the UK. Current projects involving RDF include:
- Levenseat, Shepperton, Boston Biomass, Barry, and two in Hull.
Other gasification plant includes:
- ATT demonstrator project: an ex-incinerator on the Isle of Wight that Energos retrofitted with gasification technology
- Chinook, recently began operating the world’s largest industrial waste gasification plant in the West Midlands. The company is currently building a 500,000tpa gasifier for mixed waste in the Emirate of Sharjah and has two further projects in the UK.
- Resource Recovery Solutions’ under-construction 12MWe Derby EfW plant ;
Cogen – Welland, Ince, Birmingham and Dartmoor.
Peel, Bilsthorpe, Nottingham
Q. Where will the fuel / feedstock come from?
A. The source of the Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) will be the residual ‘black bag’ waste from UK households. We will not be using materials that the householder segregates for recycling.
The waste that will be used is currently being exported; or is being sent to landfill, and so will not affect existing UK energy from waste facilities.
Some of the material is likely to come from Scotland and the south of England. The material will not be sourced from overseas.
Q. Will Boston Alternative Energy Facility take waste from Boston/Lincolnshire?
A. This is being considered. The EfW facility at North Hykeham is nearly at capacity, both Lincolnshire County Council and Boston Borough Council are looking at additional solutions for residual household waste. There is potential that Boston Alternative Energy Facility could offer a solution, subject to the waste meeting the required specification, and is something that we will discuss further with both authorities.
The Project Team and the local council and county council are also working on the potential to receive the residual household waste that is currently processed at the Slippery Gowt lane transfer station. This transfer station currently receives the green bin waste from Boston residents; and the black bag waste from South Holland residents. Currently, this waste is received at Slippery Gowt by bin lorry, bulked up, then driven by lorry to the incinerator at North Hykeham near Lincoln.
The proposed Boston Alternative Energy Facility could take this material as long as it is baled and wrapped in plastic before transfer to prevent odour. This would be subject to agreement with the relevant councils and the Developer. If this was to be received, it would reduce the impact of lorry movements going from the transfer station at Slippery Gowt to North Hykeham.
Q. If you are using this technology to dispose of household waste, won’t this discourage people from recycling?
Householders already are required to segregate the dry recyclables from the residual waste that cannot be recycled. This is common practice across the UK. We will not stop this from happening.
The residual waste stream which is often referred to as ‘black bag waste’ contains materials that cannot be recycled; because they cannot be recycled or because they are contaminated (e.g. with food or labelling).
We will not be accepting the waste that has been segregated for recycling by the householder.
Q. Will the gasification facility be able to process hazardous waste?
A. No, the facility will not be able to process hazardous waste. The only type of materials the Facility will be receiving to be used as feedstock in the gasifier will be refuse derived fuel. RDF is the residual ‘black bag’ waste from UK households. The Facility will not receive any hazardous waste for use in generating power in the gasification plant, nor any other non-hazardous waste for this purpose other than RDF.
Q. Will the facility operate 24/7?
A. Yes, with planned maintenance cycles. Each of the three gasification lines will run for 8000 hours per year (approximately 333 days).
Q. What is the lifespan of the gasification plant?
A. It is intended to operate for 25 years (minimum), after which the performance will be reviewed in line with operational standards at the time. This will inform whether the facility will continue to operate or will need to be upgraded; or decommissioned.
Q. How many homes could be powered with electricity?
A. More than 206,000 houses, which is equivalent to over 66% of all of the houses in Lincolnshire.
The Process FAQs
Q. What happens to the materials that are removed by the fuel processing facility?
A. The Waste processing facility is capable of separating out materials that either are unsuitable for the gasification process because they are inert and have no heat value as a fuel (for example glass); or because they could be recycled (for example aluminium or steel). These are collected separately in the waste processing facility and equate to approximately 15% of the RDF received. The inert materials will be used in the lightweight aggregate facility (LWA) on site to make an aggregate product. The metals will be removed for recycling in local metal recycling facilities.
Q. What is the likely height of the stack compared with the newly constructed biomass facility?
A. Boston Biomass plc stack is 45m high (although the original plan for this facility had consent for a 65m stack).
The Facility’s highest structures will be the gasification plant exhaust stack and the two proposed Lightweight Aggregates plant stacks which are each anticipated to be approximately 70m.
There will be three main gasification buildings, each of which will be identical; and combined with one stack. The main gasification building is likely to be approximately 30 metres tall and 38 metres at its tallest point. This is approximately 5 to 10m higher than the current building.
The silos used for storage of the processed RDF will be approximately 30 metres tall.
There will also be two stacks for the lightweight aggregates facility.
There are numerous tall structures in the area, such as masts and pylons, and a stack for the Boston wood gasification facility.
Q. How will you minimise environmental impact?
A. Extensive investigations have been carried out to assess each environmental topic in line with the indicative design of the site. This will identify legislative and good practice requirements to ensure that the facility would not cause any unacceptable adverse effects. These measures will evolve as investigations and surveys are carried out.
The facility will not be able to operate without an environmental permit, which will ensure that human health and the environment is protected by the operating procedures that will be implemented at the site.
Q. What are you going to do about emissions and odour?
A. The refuse derived fuel (RDF) is not anticipated to cause odour because it will be tightly wrapped in plastic to form the bales and will only be stored for a short period of time (up to four days) before it is processed.
No damaged bales will be allowed to be loaded onto ships before sailing to the site in Boston. If a bale is damaged during shipping, it will not be off-loaded and will be returned to the supplier.
If a bale is damaged whilst transferring to storage, this will be immediately removed and transferred to the re-baling facility on site and will be immediately re-baled and wrapped. This will take place in a sealed building to prevent odour.
The RDF bales are shredded in the waste processing facility and this process will generate odour. However, the waste processing facility will not smell from the outside. The waste processing facility building will be under negative pressure which will stop odour from escaping. This means that if a door is opened, air will flow in rather than potentially odorous air flowing out. Furthermore, the building’s ventilation system will ensure that the odorous air will be removed from this building and will be transferred into the gasification unit to effectively destroy the odour.
It is important to note that all odour management systems and technology will have to be proven to be operating in accordance with ‘Best Available Techniques’, otherwise consent will not be granted to build the Facility; and the Environment Agency will not grant an environmental permit for the operation of the Facility.
Q. Will it be very noisy?
A. Detailed noise and vibration assessments have been carried out based upon the range of infrastructure that is planned to be within the plant to identify what the noise characteristics of the site will be. The potential noise levels have been compared to the required baseline noise levels and this information will be used to identify noise limits for the facility. These noise limits would be set by the local authority and the project team will be working with them to discuss the potential mitigation measures that may be required to manage any operation that could cause unacceptable noise.
The facility will have comply with these strict noise limits to ensure that it will not cause unacceptable noise or vibration to those nearby.
Q. Will the construction adversely affect wildlife and ecology?
A. A Construction Environmental Management Plan will specify how construction will be carried out to minimise environmental and health impacts. This will be informed by detailed assessment to identify the appropriate mitigation measures to ensure that the facility would not cause any unacceptable adverse ecological effects during both construction and operation.
These measures will evolve as investigations and surveys are carried out.
The facility will not be able to operate without an environmental permit, which will ensure that health and the environment is protected by the site’s operating procedures.
Q. How will emissions be controlled?
A. Emissions must be tightly controlled. The facility will not receive consent to be built, nor an environmental permit to operate, unless it can be demonstrated that the best available techniques are being used to ensure that all emissions are below the required standards that are set in law.
Waste gases generated in the gasification process will be treated inside the plant before being emitted to the atmosphere. There will be a continuous emissions monitoring system installed which will make sure that these limits are consistently being complied with.
Q. I live opposite the proposed site – what will you be doing to mitigate visual impact?
A. There will be some viewpoints that will be negatively impacted by the proposed development. This is inevitable given the type of facility that is proposed.
A detailed visual assessment has been carried out to identify where the visual impacts will be most significant in accordance with the indicative design of the site. These measures will evolve as investigations and surveys are carried out. However, the site is in an area already used by industry and will be adjacent to an existing waste wood gasification facility, so the new facility will be in context with what is already there; and will also be in line with what the site has been allocated for in the Lincolnshire Minerals and Waste Local Plan – Site Allocations (2017).
In the next phase prior to submission, we will be exploring the potential for landscaping and screening of the Facility, using trees and hedging. This will have to follow the general character of the area and the Policy requirements of the Local Plan.
Q. How tall will the proposed gasification facility be?
A. Height of stack: 70m
General height of gasifier building: 29m
highest point of gasification framework: 38m
Boston / Local Benefits FAQs
Q. Why have you chosen to build this in Boston?
A. There is a 132 kV connection at the site which will allow the Boston Alternative Energy Facility to generate power for the grid.
This, combined with the riverside location that allows receipt of material by ship and the allocation of the site for industrial development in the Lincolnshire Minerals and Waste Local Plan means that the site is ideal.
Q. What are the economic benefits to Boston?
A. The facility will not only create more jobs for the people of Boston, but it will also help to provide greater economic resilience for Boston through diversification of industry during construction and operation. It will also provide additional revenue to the Port as the refuse derived fuel will arrive via ship.
Further investment opportunities will develop through the consenting process.
Q. How many jobs will it create?
A. The facility will create around 80 jobs, of varying skill levels.
The construction process will employ approximately 300 people.
Q. How much traffic will there be when the facility is operational?
A. The impact of the construction and operation of the facility upon the local road network has been assessed by a Transport study that is required with the environmental information to accompany the Development Consent Order (DCO) application. The operational traffic demand has been determined and assessed with input from industry expertise. The assessment concludes a predicted residual impact of negligible to minor adverse for the effects of pedestrian severance, pedestrian amenity, road safety and driver delay.
Operational road traffic is expected to comprise delivery of raw materials; commuting workforce; and segregated materials (comprising ferrous and non-ferrous metals) from the feedstock processing facility. Onsite reuse of other segregated material from the feedstock processing facility (e.g. glass, fines and stones) will be promoted where possible in line with the waste hierarchy and will be part of the input to the lightweight aggregates plant.
Q. Will you be offering apprenticeships?
A. Yes, this is something we will be looking at once consent has been given.
We have consulted with Boston College and they are excited by the potential for the project to align with their future plans for apprenticships at the College. We will continue this relationship as the project progresses throuogh the consenting phase.
Q. How long is the consent application process?
A. We anticipate that the consent application will be made in Q4 2019.
The determination process will then take approximately 18 months.
Q. When do you expect to gain consent?
A. We hope to gain consent for the facility in early 2021.
Q. When is construction likely to start?
A. We expect construction to start within six months of DCO consent being granted in 2021. Some early phases of construction could start almost immediately, subject to the terms of the consent.
Q. How long will construction take?
A. Around 48 months
Q. When will it be operational?
A. We expect the facility will be operational in 2025.
Q. How much traffic would there be during construction?
A. The PEIR includes an initial assessment of the impact of traffic during construction and operations. The assessment considers 12 sections of routes and was informed through desktop studies, site visits, consultation with stakeholders and traffic surveys.
The potential impact was modelled based on daily and annual average usage. When considered on an annual average basis, construction traffic will not have a significant impact on local traffic levels at any of the 12 sections.
However, based on daily average data, there will be a two-week period during the first two months of construction where HGV traffic travelling to the Facility will increase substantially at eight of the 12 route sections with Nursery Road/Lealand Way being most impacted. The main factor causing this increase is the large-scale delivery of cement to site for construction.
Proposed mitigation to reduce this impact is to have a concrete batching plant on site for the construction period.
Mitigation measures will also be secured through commitments contained in a Construction Traffic Management Plan. This will specify which routes must be followed to access the site for all visiting lorries; and appropriate access times outside of peak traffic hours on the routes in.
Further mitigation of these impacts will be developed as part of the Environmental Statement process.
Q. How will you stop construction traffic using smaller roads?
A. Yes, that is the plan.
There will be a Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) that will define the number of deliveries to site during the construction period and will also identify the routes that construction vehicles must take. There are means to enforce routes to and from site by using GPS tracking of vehicles used during construction and enforcing a penalty system for operators who fail to adhere to the CTMP.
Q. What impact will the Wharf have upon the River Witham in terms of flow and silt build up? Will there be subsequent erosion of river banks by the wash from vessels?
A. We have carried out an assessment of the sediment transport processes in the River and how this will be affected by the scheme. The outcome of the assessment there are no significant impacts aon marine sediment and water quality for both the construction and operational phase.
Q. What impact will there be for the Port and the fishing fleet?
A. The impact of these vessels on the current usage of the Haven will be assessed in a Navigational risk assessment.
This will identify whether there are any significant negative impacts and if so, what mitigation measures will be required to be implemented.
The assessment will be undertaken in consultation with key stakeholders in the area and take each of their views into account individually, including the Port of Boston, the local fishing fleet and other river users to appropriately and proportionately assess the significance of potential impacts.
Q. When vessels are moored at the Wharf will there be sufficient navigable channel width for boats to/ from the Port to get past?
A. Yes, this will be factored in to the designs of the wharf
Q. What is the turn around time for vessels?
A. Vessels will arrive on high tide and depart on next high tide.
Q. What will happen to the plastic wrapping around the bales?
A. Plastic is shredded along with the RDF bales in the feedstock processing facility
Q. How long is “temporary” storage? How long will RDF material be stored on site?
A. The anticipated maximum is seven days.
Q. What steps are in place to ensure loose waste isn’t blown away?
A. The refuse derived fuel will arrive by ship in bales, which will be tightly contained by a thick plastic wrapping. This wrap will prevent any loose material and odour from escaping and is strong enough to cope with unloading and stockpiling.
No damaged bale will be loaded onto a ship at the departure point.
No bale that has been damaged during shipping to the site will be removed from the ship to prevent debris from entrering the river. Instead, they will return on the boat to the supplier for re-baling.
Any bale that is damaged on land when placing into the stockpiles will be taken to a re-baling plant onsite.
The bales will be conveyed into a waste processing building for processing, which includes shredding. This building will be sealed to prevent any material from escaping after the bales have been shredded.
Q. If most of the site is expected to be hard standing, what happens to surface water run off during construction, operation or decommissioning?
This will be controlled. There will be a surface water management plan to determine the most effective way of managing surface water safely.
Surface water during construction will be retained on site for use in the lightweight aggregates Facility.
Q. What if a bale is damaged?
No damaged bales will be allowed to be loaded onto ships before sailing to the site in Boston.
No bale that is damaged during shipping to the site will be offloaded from the ship – instead, it will be returned to the supplier on the vessel, for re-baling.
If a bale is damaged on land at the Facility, this will be immediately removed and transferred to the re-baling facility on site and will be immediately re-baled and wrapped. This will take place in a sealed building to prevent odour.
Consultation / Stakeholders FAQs
Q. How can I have my say about the project?
A. You can have your say about the project by emailing consultation@BostonAEF.co.uk or completing a hard copy or online version of the feedback form. Feedback forms will be available at public information days and on bostonaef.co.uk.
Q. Who can I speak to if I have a question?
A. You can email consultation@BostonAEF.co.uk or call 0800 0014 050
Q. How have you consulted with local people?
A. We will be consulting with local people through hosting three round of public information days (PIDs). The first round of events was held in September 2018, and were informal drop in sessions for people to come and view the plans and leave feedback. A second round of PIDs was held in February 2019 to provide an update on the project and seek views on mitigation. The third phase of PIDs is being held in June 2019 to consult on the PEIR.
Q. How have you consulted with local councils?
A. Local councils have been consulted with at all stages of the consultation. The Statement of Community Consultation and the Updated Statement of Community Consultation were shared with Lincolnshire County Council, Boston Borough Council, South Holland District Council, South Kesteven District Council, North Kesteven District Council and East Lindsey District Council. Councils were given the chance to provide comments on these documents before final versions were published. Boston Borough Council, a statutory consultee within whose jurisdiction the proposed project is situated, has attended a number of briefing meetings offered by the project team and given feedback on the evolving proposals. Statutory consultees, such as local councils in the vicinity of the project, have been given opportunities at each phase of consultation to make comments and share their views. Councils are able to advise AUBP on the proposals but the final decision on planning consent for the project will be made by the Secretary of State.
Q. Why haven’t I received a maildrop?
A. Royal Mail delivered a maildrop to all 32,200 homes and businesses in the Boston Borough Council area. A Royal Mail investigation, in both Phase One and Phase Two, found no evidence of non-delivery. I will pass your address onto Royal Mail for investigation.
Q. What feedback has been received from consultees so far?
A. So far, feedback has been largely positive. The main concerns about the proposals have been about noise, emissions and air quality and traffic and transport.