The Thermal Recovery Facility (TRF) is managed and operated under the contract that was signed between the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) and Viridor Laing (Greater Manchester) Ltd., in order to continue creating energy sufficient to power 7,000 homes. By burning wastes, Bolton TRF produces energy to create electricity which is then transferred to the National Grid fore domestic use. Situated in Bolton, Raikes lane, BL3 2NH, this plant burns municipal waste from Salford CC, Bury MBC, Bolton MBC, and Rochdale MBC in different amounts. The waste material in itself is a mixture of trade, commercial and domestic wastes, and items that have been confiscated from customs and police departments. Also, the facilities and equipment that are fit and used in Bolton Thermal Recovery Facility heighten the need to consider the legal implications of BTRF.
This state above especially due to the fact that by the magnitude of the equipment and facilities that are found in BTRF directly and readily warrants the need to factor environmental and economic implications in BTRF’s existence and operations. Among these facilities, materials and equipment are: an incinerator that has the capacity to burn municipal waste at about 16 tonnes per hour; the waste types that are collected and transported to the site; a large and deep reception pit; supplementary oil fired burners which ensure that temperature does not fall below 8500 C at all times; heat recovery boiler; a gas stream; filters; and international catering wastes. The BTFR has also had total operational hours that run up to 6,793. This means that Bolton Thermal Recovery Facility is a busy site which must be guided by proper safety regulations which are founded upon environmental, economic and legal concerns. Because of this, the need to consider or craft policies that define legal, economic and environmental concerns of a plant as large as the Bolton Thermal Recovery Facility is paramount.
As a consultant, it is therefore necessary to divulge details on legal liabilities that may arise from the environmental impacts of operating Bolton Thermal Recovery Facility and the necessary measures that need to be taken to ensure compliance with relevant consents.
The Policy, Environmental and Economic Drivers for the Development and Operation of the Facility
The economic drivers for the development and operation of Bolton Thermal Recovery Facility are far reaching and should thus be seriously taken into consideration. For one, BTRF is run by Europe’s largest public waste contract which is the Greater Manchester deal, which in turn costs 3.8 pounds. BTRF also deals with an array of numerous materials and energy recovery facilities, as previously mentioned. The fact that BTRF also has to combine RDF production processes and MBT-AD technological processes further stresses the magnitude of BTRF’s economic significance.
Bedeyore (2010) points out that it is also important to consider the fact that the economic significance of BTRF dares back to 2009 when it was signed as a landmark agreement, to bring about an international waste management industry. The bid to help divert 75% of wastes from landfills in the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) led to the signing of Recycling and waste Management Contract with Viridor Laing Greater Manchester Limited. Following this, this contract houses over 30 facilities such as Material Recovery Facilities (MRF), transfer stations, Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants, composting facilities and thermal recovery Waste to Energy (WTE) facilities. All these facilities have been refurbished or built afresh. That BTFR is underpinned by major economic drivers is a factor that is underscored by there being at least 12 facilities that are still under construction.
The above developments not only emphasise the need to greatly protect BTRF operations to avoid any industrial mishaps. The need for BTRF to align all of its operations with its original plans and targets is also important to recognise, which was to create an integrated collection and disposal system, where as much waste as possible can be transported, managed and treated as high up the waste hierarchy as possible (Ricardo, 2005).
Another component of economic drivers that underpin the operations of BTRF is the use of technological advancement. To avoid cases of economic losses that would
The Magnitude and Significance of Potential Environmental Impacts Associated with Site Operations
Levin and Trevor (2012) observe that the magnitude and significance of potential environment impacts which are associated with the operations of Bolton Thermal Recovery Facility (BTRF) are far reaching. For one, BTRF runs a commingled recycling collection wherein residents are needed to separate and gather cans, plastic bottles, green wastes, food waste, papers and cards for processing at BTRF’s MRF facilities. It is therefore important that Viridor Laing Greater Manchester Limited ensures that there are safety and standards procedures put in place to ward off the possibilities of accidents that may not only hinder the functions of BTRF, but expose it to the loss of its massive economic interests also.
According to Justin (2009), this may mean that Viridor Laing Greater Manchester Limited may have to educate the masses (or residents) on how to best handle waste deposits without injuring either themselves, or the environment. The same is also to be emphasised to the residents on the need to competently handle waste disposals to save Viridor Laing Greater Manchester Limited from consuming too much time in sorting wastes and from incurring financial or economic drawbacks that may ensue from cases where inchoately sorted out wastes end up in BTRF’s facilities, and thereby paving way for the destruction of BTRF’s facilities or machinery.
Current Statutory Controls that Govern Site Operations Including a Review of the Powers Available to Regulators or Securing Compliance
It is a fact that there are certain statutory controls which govern site operations at the Thermal Recovery Facility. These statutory regulations exist, courtesy of the fact that there should be legal mechanisms that control the way in which waste management sites operate, as a way of averting the dangers of environmental pollution and degradation. All these regulations are enshrined in Phase I of the Environmental Permitting Programme (EPP), 2005-2008. The EPP in turn is celebrated for having helped create the regulatory system that helps in ensuring the integration of the Waste Management Licensing and Pollution Prevention and Control.
Wolf and Stanley (2010, 66) continue that the same EPP has been instrumental in helping the simplified system regulatory system come into place. EPP which was known as the Environmental Permitting Regulations (of England and Wales) at the time it was introduced in 2007 replaced 41 statutory instruments which existed at the time.
Jewell and Steele (2008, 88) advice that it is important to take the EPP program into strong consideration when considering the running of the Thermal Recovery Facility, given that it has created specific thresholds and provisions for waste incineration and pollution abatement, without ceasing to be a single framework.
Specifically, Wolf and White (2007, 15) posit that under the aegis of the EPP, there is the Waste Incineration Directive (WID). In the first place, WID defines the kind of wastes that may pass through waste management processes such as gasification, combustion and pyrolysis. Herein, waste is given a legal definition as material that which the holder intends to discard, discards, or is required for discarding. However, WID does not make a definitive description of what waste is not, and thereby leaving courts of law to exercise their discretion as the final arbiter.
In respect to the immediately foregoing, Lowe and Ward (2008, 84) observe that there are a number of elements that WID classifies as waste. These include: vegetable waste from forestry or agriculture; vegetable waste from food processing industries; radioactive wastes; cork wastes; animal carcasses which are covered by he Animal By-Products Regulations; wood wastes; and fibrous vegetable wastes; fibrous vegetable wastes (that are usually made from pulp making, as long as this takes place on the site of waste generation, and there is recovery of the heat generated).
In respect to the above, it will behoove Viridor Laing (Greater Manchester) Ltd not to include virgin timber waste, in its list of materials it should be dealt with. This is because the Environmental Agency in its regulatory position statement, announced recently its decision to not regard timber as waste. Because of this, the Environment Agency does not subject virgin timber and its components to waste regulatory controls. The heart of the matter is that only wood treated or used is classified as non-virgin wood. Thus, this form of timber is exempted from being totally de-regulated, though this non-virgin timber may still be still exempted from WID, in the event that they are not treated with heavy metals or halogenated organic compounds (Clark, 2005, 112).
Viridor Laing (Greater Manchester) Ltd may also not include in its operations, experimental plants which are used for research activities, testing, and demonstration. WID also excludes experimental plants that are used for treating less than 50 tonnes of wastes, annually. As if this is not enough, it is important to remember that even these plants which are excluded from the WID’s rubric may still be required to obtain the Pollution Prevention and Control (PCC) Permit. The PCC Permit is an Exemption or a Waste Management License (Makuch and Pereirea, 2012, 90).
Macrory, Havercroft and Avosetta Group of European Environmental Lawyers (2004, 55) observe that it is also important to take stock of the fact that there are special circumstances wherein waste derived fuel (WDF) may desist from being waste prior to its use as fuel, if it had been subjected to specific forms of processing. Nevertheless, this does not apply in many cases and is usually left to the courts of law to make their ruling. Timber that has been obtained from demolition or construction sites is also covered by WID, unless there are substantial indications that indicate otherwise.
At the same time, it is necessary to remember that EPP draws out the mechanism, felicity conditions for, and the procedure that is to be used for waste incineration, as is provided for in the Environmental Permitting Guidance the Directive on the Incineration of Waste.
Because of the foregoing, it is clear that WID makes impositions and requirements on the kind of wastes that are permitted a given plant, reception and delivery of the waste, operating conditions, thermal conversion equipment used, the emissions monitoring requirements, abatement plants and emission limit values to water and air (Holder and Lee, 2007, 102 & Wilkinson, 2002, 90).
Wood, Chynoweth and Adshead (2010, 75) divulge that the UK and the European Union (EU) also has the Landfill Directive which describes the manner in which Viridor Laing (Greater Manchester) Ltd and other waste disposal companies may manage the disposal and treatment sites such as Bolton Thermal Recovery Facility when dealing with ash or powdery wastes.
In a separate wavelength, there is the Clean Air Acts of 1968 and 1956 which were made against the backdrop of smogs that took place in the 1950s and 1960s.
Again, Michaels (2008, 28) explains that the Clean Air Act gave local authorities the frameworks and power with which they could define smoke control areas. These Acts were then included in the Clean Air Act, 1993. The Clean Air Act, 1993 regulates activities that are in smoke control areas which include authorised fuels and specific manufactured smokeless fuels. Authorized fuels may include electricity anthracite and gas. The Clean Air Act may be applicable in the manner Bolton Thermal Recovery Facility may run its operations and discharge its gaseous wastes into the atmosphere. This is because, the Clean Air Act stipulates that pallets and wood may only be incinerated in an exempt appliance which has been particularly tested and approved by the agents working under and mandated by the Clean Air Act, for instance.
In a separate wavelength, pollution prevention and control regulations (Wales and England) are also likely to extensively affect the operations of Bolton Thermal Recovery Facility (BTRF), or the manner in which Viridor Laing (Greater Manchester) Ltd will manage it. The Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations (PPCR) in Wales and England are meant for regulating the emission of pollution into water air and on land. The same refers to pollution which takes the form of heat, noise and odour.
Just as Bassett (2007, 16) divulges, this regulation also seeks to cover the prevention of accidents. Because of the PPCR, it will behoove BTRF to: adhere to all the provisions stipulated by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) which cover Part A (1) installations, as is regulated by the Environmental Agency; conform to all the stipulations of the Local authority Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (LA-IPPC), which covers Part A (2) installations, as is demanded by local authorities; and Local Authority Prevention and Control (LAPPC) which covers Part B installations, as is also demanded for by local authorities. The key thing is that Viridor Laing Ltd. must be properly installed, as a way of conforming to the PPCR regulations of England and Wales.
That conformance to PPCR’s stipulations is an inescapable affair is underscored by the procedure which is used in issuing licenses. Particularly, this is because, operations within these regulations and frameworks are allowed through the issuance of permits which set operating conditions, based on the application of Best Available Techniques (BAT). Herein, classification as Part A (1), A (2), and Part B are premised upon production capability and the actual activities that have been carried out (Humphrey, 2009, 12 & Nicholas, 2010, 19).
To be more specific, activities which fall within Part A (1) includes burning of: fuels in an appliance which has a thermal input of 50 MW or more; waste oil; recovered oil; or any other fuel that comprises waste, in an appliance with rated thermal input that exceeds 3 MW. This also includes pyrolysis of carbonaceous materials and gasification materials, with chemically untreated wood being the only exception.
Part B activities includes burning of any fuel in an individual appliance which has a rated thermal input of 20 MW or above, but is not included in Part A (1); and other combustion of waste oil also (Edwards, 2008, 12).
Available Statutory and Non-Statutory Guidance Influencing Regulatory Decision-Making
As already mentioned, there are several statutory laws that influence regulatory decision-making, concerning the operations of Bolton Thermal Recovery Facility (BTRF). Chief among these is the Clean Air Act which aims at reducing pollution from grit, dust and smoke. The Act accords local authorities powers to designated Smoke Control Areas and therefore criminalises emitting of smoke from chimney. The only exception is where the regulation emission of smoke through the chimney involves the use of a chimney, fireplace and fuel which has been approved by local authorities (Martins and Martins, 2010, 100 & Joseph, 2011, 78).
Under the Clean Air Act, local authorities are able to address the concerns specified under the Red Tape Challenge. To ensure the effectiveness of the Act, legislators review the Clean Air Act; and look at ways by which the process of approving fireplaces and fuels for use in Smoke Control Areas can be simplified.
There is also the Noise Policy Statement for England (2010) which determines the location of BTRF. The noise policy statement for England enables local authorities to manage nuisance and noise in the local environment. The elements of great concern include: environmental noise (which controls noise which emanates from transport sources such as aviation, road and rail; and noise and nuisances which may emanate from neighbourhood noise, smoke, odours and artificial light. The provisions stipulated in Noise Policy Statement for England (2010) will therefore hinder BTRF from being situated at least 3 kilometres away from residential areas.
The development above also means that BTRF will have to punctiliously and regularly service its engines, as a way of abating noise pollution and smoke emission.
There are also, legal obligations that are usually and mainly driven by EU legislations. Some of these legislations include the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales), 2010 which seek to regulate industrial emissions.
Another way in which the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) will affect the operations of BTRF is through the injunction that Viridor Laing (Greater Manchester) Ltd provides BTRF’s details to, and makes BTRF’s pollutant volume conform to the regulations of the UK Pollutant Release and Transfer Register. This is of paramount important since the studying of the UK Pollutant Release and Transfer Register and the execution of policies thereof enables stakeholders to determine the extent and volume of industrial
In another wavelength, it is important to take stock of non-statutory guidance which may influence regulatory decision-making and the operations of BTRF. The natural environment white paper (2011) exemplifies these non-statutory regulations. The natural environment white paper sets out to realise the vision of attaining a clean natural environment over the next fifty years. The same applies for air quality, noise and nuisance. There is also the national planning policy framework (2012) which makes explanations on the social and environmental roles that must come into play, in order to minimise pollution, and strengthen biodiversity.
Alongside the measures above, there is the new public health outcomes framework which was published by the Department of Health in 2012. This framework includes air quality and noise, as the main determinants of public health. This framework will definitely affect operations of BTRF, since noise and air quality are some of the elements which may characterise the running and operations of waste disposal and recycling plants such as BTRF.
Future Statutory Controls That May Influence Regulation of Site Activities
As the UK continues to become part and parcel of the European Union (EU), there is bound to be more statutory controls in future, to control the operations of BTRF and similar companies whose operations may affect the extent or degree of environmental safety. Some of these statutory regulations are likely to touch on chemical safety.
According to the minister in charge of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt. Hon. MP, Peterson Owen, this is because the EU is committed to ensure that chemicals being used for industrial purposes harm neither human health, nor the environment, while industries continue to actualise the benefits they seek to realise. Likewise, EU expects the UK and its member states to fully comply with its statutory regulations.
Against the backdrop of the immediately foregoing, it is most likely that there will be statutory regulations which will seek to ensure total compliance with EU, domestic laws, international laws and agreements that regulate the use, procurement, disposal and composition of chemicals.
Tinsley (2001, 41) observes that there may also be statutory regulations being made in future, not only in the UK, but also throughout the EU, as a way of maintaining and strengthening risk reduction strategies, and to assist in managing risks that specific chemicals may bring.
Chances are also high that there are laws and future statutory controls that are likely to be formed to help strengthening the culture and practices of reviews, updates and the maintaining of emergency plans for recovery, during an outbreak of chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological accident. These statutory regulations are likely to be made through close consultations and under the aegis of the Government Decontamination Service. This is because the Government Decontamination Service is the agency that is concerned with aversion and control of crises that stem from chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological accidents, just as Coyle and Morrow (2004, 11) observe.
Alongside the developments above, there are bound to be statutory regulations that address and place legal and logistical modalities on pesticides, endocrine disruptors, persistent organic pollutants and lead.
There is also bound to be the formation of advisory and regulatory bodies and the strengthening of already existing bodies such as the Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee (HSAC) and the UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum, to inform environmental security policy and to ensure conformance to these policies.
Provisions for Environmental Reporting Associated with site Operations
There are provisions for environmental reporting associated with site operations, as has already been stated.
For instance, it may be necessary to have all waste disposal and manufacturing plants such as BTRF fill and comply with the noise policy statement for England (2010). Alongside this, the government ensures that all the statements reflected in the policy statement are enforced in all the departments.
Viridor Laing (Greater Manchester) Ltd. must also ensure that it adheres to, and presents its report to the UK Pollutant Release and Transfer Register. This submission will be needed to show the level or extent of emission that BTRF gives out, so that improvements can be noted and areas of weaknesses corrected.
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