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Sharma approves London energy park

Words: Laura Edgar
Alok Sharma / Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Energy secretary Alok Sharma has granted a development consent order (DCO) for the construction of an onshore electricity generating station in the London Borough of Bexley.

The development was sanctioned under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime.

Riverside Energy Park will be located in Belvedere, next to an existing energy-from-waste facility. 

The project, to be delivered by Cory Environmental Holdings Limited, comprises:

  • an energy recovery facility with a generating capacity of around 76MW. It is expected to use a total annual waste throughput of up to 805,920 tonnes;
  • an anaerobic digestion facility with an annual waste throughput of up to 40,000 tonnes of green and food waste;
  • enabling infrastructure for combined heat and power;
  • solar voltaic panels with a generating capacity of around 1MW; 
  • a battery storage facility with a storage capacity of around 20MW; and
  • associated development. 

The Planning Inspectorate recommended that the project should be approved. 

Sharma considered a number of concerns identified by interested parties including potential harm on the townscape and landscape, negative impacts on transport, and carbon emissions. 

The Planning Inspectorate, as the examining authority, noted that the applicant carried out a thorough assessment of townscape and visual impacts but found that that there would be several locations where there “would be moderate adverse effect which cannot be fully addressed through the mitigation measures included in the order”. 

It also noted that there would be some disruption to traffic during construction of the electrical connection that cannot be mitigated, but that construction and operation of the development would not adversely affect road or river transport.

Sharma agreed with the examining authority's conclusion that a “high weighting” should be given to the established need for the development of electricity generating infrastructure, and that the local adverse effects “do not outweigh the benefits”.

Dougie Sutherland, group CEO of Cory Riverside Energy, said: “Currently, over two million tonnes of London’s non-recyclable waste is sent to landfill or shipped overseas, and so more domestic capacity is needed urgently. We are proud to be playing our part through the construction of this new facility.

“This represents an investment of around half a billion pounds into the UK’s infrastructure, which will be vital for rebuilding the economy after the coronavirus pandemic has eased. In the meantime, we will continue to focus on the health and safety of our staff whilst delivering the essential waste management service that the country needs during this period of uncertainty. We will support the national response to coronavirus in whatever way we can.”

The decision letter and more details about the development can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.

Image credit | Foreign and Commonwealth Office