FAQ: The Environment

  • What impact will this facility have on the environment?

    The facility would not have been granted planning permission unless it had established that it would not have a significant impact on the environment. It is the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate this to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority, which consulted a number of other organisations (such as the Environment Agency) to ask for their opinion on the application.

    The accepted method for an applicant to illustrate the effects of any facility is to perform an Environmental Impact Assessment.

  • What is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)?

    An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process that assesses the potential effects on the environment of a proposed development or project. If the likely effects are unacceptable, measures in design or other mitigation can be put in place to reduce or avoid those effects. If this is not possible, then the development will not be allowed to proceed.

    The potential environmental effects are systematically studied and include visual impact, traffic, air quality, noise, dust, odour, the effect on human health and flood risk to the site (amongst others).

  • Who does the EIA and how do you ensure it is independent?

    The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is prepared by professional technical specialists, who are subject to the professional and ethical standards of their relevant industry body. The EIA is then peer reviewed by other environmental advisors who are a corporate member of IEMA (The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment).

    The findings of the EIA are reviewed by the relevant technical specialists within the Local Planning Authority and also subject to comment by the statutory consultees (i.e. Natural England, Historic England, Highways England, etc.). It is also open to public scrutiny.

  • What about the visual impact? Would the plant be visible from miles away?

    The visual impact of the facility has been evaluated as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment that accompanied the planning application.  Part of the assessment process was intended to gauge and minimise the overall visual impact, by adapting the design of the building to the surroundings. A belt of trees with new shrub and hedge planting will help screen the facility from view on the southern and western boundaries, alongside other industrial units, railway line, the Castle Bromwich Inn, the River Tame and the road network including the M6.

  • How much traffic will there be? How many heavy good vehicles will be coming and going?

    It is anticipated that RDF will be delivered to the site via a combination of residual waste collection vehicles (RCVs) that will typically be 18 to 22 tonnes (gross weight) or articulated bulk haulage vehicles from nearby RDF transfer stations.  The REC is expected to generate up to 66 heavy goods vehicle (HGVs) movements per day (33 in / 33 out). There would also be car journeys associated with approximately 20 staff working in a three-shift pattern.

  • What measures are being taken to avoid creating traffic jams or more congestion?

    Traffic analysis showed the numbers of vehicles servicing the REC and the warehouse would not have a significant impact on the road network, and would be unlikely to increase the risk of accidents. Recognising that traffic is a serious concern for many people, the proposals have taken into account both construction and operational traffic and put forward mitigation measures, such as a Construction Traffic Management Plan. Once the facility is operational, a Travel Plan for staff and visitors will be in place to minimize the number of vehicle movements. HGV deliveries are expected to be spread evenly throughout the 12 hour period and there is unlikely to be a peak in movements.  However, if necessary, deliveries may be pre-booked into the plant prior and scheduled to avoid busy times during the morning and evening.

  • What are the proposed routes to and from the facility? Can delivery vehicles take short cuts?

    The actual routes have yet to be agreed. However, vehicles will use the public highway using the key transport links such as the M6 motorway. Given the site is in an established industrial area, the roads nearby have been designed to cater for HGV movements, so that short cuts are discouraged. The site is located close to the strategic road network and accessible along Dunlop Way. This provides a link with the A47-Fort Parkway, which is a two-way dual carriageway and the most direct route, via the Spitfire Island junction to Junction 5 of the M6 motorway, so it is unlikely vehicles would opt to use local roads as shortcuts.

  • Has rail been considered for bringing in the RDF?

    No, as this is not a practical or economically viable option, given there needs to be waste loading facilities where the waste arises. Since the waste may come from several different sources, this is not cost effective. Finally, the waste may arise from different places as contracts change, so building rail infrastructure is no guarantee that it can be used in the future. The feasibility may be reviewed once contracts for waste are in place.

  • What are the delivery and collection hours proposed for the facility?

    Monday to Fridays – 7am to 7pm

    Saturday – 7am to 2pm

    Sundays – None

  • What about the other traffic on the road?

    Other traffic on the road has been considered as part of the traffic assessment. It was concluded that deliveries and other vehicles travelling to and from this facility would not interfere or impact on other road users.

  • Does the EIA take into account proposed new developments too?

    Prior to the submission of the planning application, Birmingham City Council identified five sites in their Scoping Opinion which are either operational, under construction/consented or the subject of a full planning application. These sites had to be included within the assessment of cumulative effects with other developments, which has been undertaken separately within each chapter of the Environmental Statement where relevant.

  • More traffic means more diesel fumes. What will be done to ensure that the air quality is not affected by the facility?

    The results of the Air Quality Assessment, based on predicted traffic generated from the proposed development and other nearby development such has indicated that air quality would not be significantly adversely affected as it represents only a minor increase to the overall traffic in the local area.

    The impact of additional traffic resulting from facility has been considered and is not significant so that its impact on the surrounding air quality is negligible.

  • What noise can be expected?

    The Noise Assessment shows that whilst some noise is to be expected, the industrial setting means that it is unlikely to impact on residential properties. The noise assessment found that the noise levels associated with the operation of the proposed REC would be below background levels at the nearest properties both during day and night periods, creating a negligible impact.

  • Will it be noisy during construction?

    Noise will always be kept to a minimum but the industrial setting means that construction noise is unlikely to be heard over existing industrial processes by neighbouring communities. The application contains standard best practice measures to reduce noise and mitigate any adverse impacts.

  • What about odour?

    The facility is very unlikely to cause any detectable odour issues. The Odour Risk Assessment undertaken as part of the Environmental Statement demonstrated that the odour effects on all local receptors would be negligible and the proposed development was judged to be insignificant in terms of odour effects.

    Furthermore, there will be no outside storage of material.

    For the gasification plant, the RDF is unloaded within a closed reception hall, with fast acting roller shutter doors that are kept shut (except to let delivery vehicles in and out). The reception hall is maintained at a negative air pressure by use of air intake fans located within the hall itself. These fans channel the air through ductwork to the gasification chamber, where it is used to burn the synthetic gas, which has been generated as part of the process. As a result, any odours are destroyed within the gasification chamber.

  • Does the process extract water from or discharge water into waterways, such as the River Tame?

    No. The gasification process does not take water from or discharge water into any waterways, as it is a closed system.