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7 October 2010, 11:43 | Updated: 7 October 2010, 12:39
Suffolk has moved a step closer to solving its waste problem with the signing of a contract to build an Energy from Waste facility - also known as an incinerator, costing £180 million - to burn household rubbish and produce energy.
Suffolk County Council has commissioned SITA UK, a recycling and resource management company, to build and run the Energy from Waste building to try and provide a cheaper and greener solution to disposing of household rubbish which cannot be recycled.
At the moment this waste is buried in the ground. Land filling on this scale is not as environmentally friendly and it is costs a lot, with the Government putting big landfill taxes on councils to encourage them to find alternative ways of getting rid of waste.
Switching to Energy from Waste would avoid additional landfill costs of around £350 million over the 25 year life of the contract. It would also be better for the environment, as the amount of emissions released into the atmosphere would be significantly reduced - contributing to Suffolk's ambition to be the greenest county.
The process would generate enough electricity to power a town the size of Lowestoft, and the majority of the ash produced can be re-used in building projects, such as roads.
Councillor Lisa Chambers, Portfolio Holder for Waste with Suffolk County Council, said: "We are committed to recycling and composting as much waste as possible and are delighted that recycling rates in the county are improving, thanks to the efforts of Suffolk residents. However, some waste simply can't be recycled and we needed to find the best possible solution for dealing with this waste."
"The signing of this contract takes us one step closer to that solution and represents tremendous value for money for Suffolk, which in the current economic climate is very good news. SITA UK will pay for the £180 million building and we'll get a Government grant to help cover the running costs over the next 25 years."
David Palmer-Jones, Chief Executive Officer or SITA UK said: "We are delighted to sign this important contract with Suffolk County Council just over four months since we were selected as the preferred bidder.
Since then, we have been out and about, consulting with residents over our plans to develop an Energy from Waste facility at Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, and we are on course to submit a planning application in December 2010.
If we receive planning permission, the Energy-from Waste facility will provide a sustainable and cost-effective way to manage 269,000 tonnes of residual waste each year, which will benefit council tax payers and support Suffolk's aim to be the UK 's greenest county. We also want to develop a facility that the county can be proud of, which is why we have taken so much care over its design."
A decision on the planning application is expected by the end of next year and if permission is granted work will start early in 2012 and will be finished by December 2014. An Environment Agency permit would also be needed before the building can be used.
In the meantime, people living in Suffolk can find out more about the project through a series of exhibitions being staged across the county this month. Representatives from both SITA UK and Suffolk County Council will be at the events to answer questions. Events will be held at:
Thursday 7 October - 11am until 5pm - Unit 10, Cornhill Walk Shopping Centre, Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds
Friday 8 October - 10am until 4pm - Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre, Tavern Street, Ipswich
Tuesday 12 October - 2pm until 8pm - St Peter's Church, Market Hill, Sudbury
Thursday 14 October - 1.30pm until 4.30pm - Felixstowe Library, Crescent Road, Felixstowe
Tuesday 26 October - noon until 6pm - Lowestoft Library, Clapham Road South, Lowestoft.
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