UK's largest anaerobic digestion facility gets green light

By Anna Austin
A proposal to build the largest anaerobic digestion facility in the U.K. has been granted planning permission by the North Yorkshire County Council. The $32.8 million Selby Renewable Energy Park project will power nearly 11,000 homes and divert 165,000 tons of food waste from landfills each year.

In the 2007 budget, the U.K. government implemented tax increases in an attempt to help reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill each year, and encourage anaerobic digestion activities such as the Selby project. Beginning April 1, taxes increased to about $66 per ton, and will rise by $13 each year until at least 2011.

The Selby Renewable Energy Park, which will be owned by White's Recycling Solutions, will be constructed on eight acres at the 42-acre site of the former Tate & Lyle Citric Acid Plant south of Selby.

When completed, the facility will house a pretreatment hall where packaged food waste from supermarkets, food processors, local authorities and caterers will be processed. An anaerobic digester already exists on the site; two additional digesters are included in the proposal.

Electricity produced at the park will be directed to the national grid through the site's existing power connection, and will be sufficient to meet nearly all of Selby's residential electrical needs. In addition, the facility will provide a low-cost heat source for local businesses, and create about 120 new jobs-including staff at the plant and drivers to transport/administer the fertilizer produced as a result of the anaerobic digestion process.

The company is currently signing contracts to begin work in the near future. White's Recycling Solutions Business Development Manager Shaun Flynn said construction on the first phase of the two-phase project is slated to begin in September, and will be completed in September of next year. Phase two is scheduled for completion in 2012.

-Anna Austin