Boston Borough Council is to comment on a major planning application for a riverside state-of-the-art alternative energy plant.

The council’s environment and performance scrutiny committee agreed on Tuesday (July 30) that the deputy chief executive, the council Leader and the portfolio holders for economic development and environmental services should finalise consultation submissions which are required by August 6.

The committee did have a concern about extra traffic movements as a result of additional household waste being brought by road from around the county to be used as fuel at the new plant. It was agreed a new road should be sought through mitigation of the impact of development to cope with extra traffic during and after construction of the facility.

The development is classed as a “national significant infrastructure project” and will be determined by the Secretary of State after a planning inquiry has been held, and not by the council’s planning committee.

The plant will generate 102 megawatts of renewable energy and be fuelled by a million tonnes a year of general residential waste delivered by ship to drive turbines.

The waste will not burn but will be broken down and converted into a gas in a 800C oxygen-limited environment. The resulting gas, heated further to 950C and breaking down potential contaminants, will then be ignited to drive steam generators. This is called a gasification process. Cooled exhaust gases go through a pollution control system to filter ash and dust, which will be used to make aggregate which will be transported off the site by ship. Clay from the east of England and silt dredged from The Haven will be added to the aggregate as a binder. The steam is air cooled and turned back into water for reuse.

The waste-derived fuel will arrive at a new wharf down river from the port at an anticipated rate of 624 ships a year.

The project also presents significant economic development opportunities linked to the supply chain and potential end users of byproducts, such as heat extraction and aggregate. It also presents opportunities for alternative ways to manage waste generated in the borough. In addition, it will also include a carbon dioxide recovery system.

The council’s Cabinet was made aware of many planning and environmental health factors to consider and it was agreed the council should continue to liaise with the applicants to seek further clarification and understanding of the potential impacts of the proposal.

Construction is expected to take four years from 2021, generating 250 to 300 construction jobs at its peak. The waste processing building will be fully enclosed with odour control measures.

The council has already commented at an earlier stage, keen to maximise economic benefits to the community while also protecting air quality and the environment from traffic, light and noise pollution. It has noted that the proposal would see waste used as a resource and reduce carbon footprints. For more information visit 

Artist’s impression of a gasification plant

Conceptual site layout

The site for Boston Alternative Energy Facility viewed from across The Haven

Site layout