Pembroke Port is currently seeking a permit associated with the delivery of an efficient, well-managed Waste to Energy handling operation.
What permit has the Port applied for?
The Port has applied to Natural Resources Wales for a bespoke permit for the temporary storage of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) and Wood Chip (both waste wood and virgin wood).
What is RDF and SRF?
Refuse derived fuel (RDF) is produced from domestic and business waste, which includes biodegradable material, as well as plastics. Non-combustible materials such as glass and metals are removed, and the residual material is then shredded.
Refuse derived fuel is used to generate energy at recovery facilities, many of them in Europe where they produce electricity and hot water for communal heating systems.
Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) is a high-quality alternative to fossil fuel produced from mainly commercial waste including paper, card, wood, textiles and plastic. Solid recovered fuel has gone through additional processing to improve the quality and value. It has a higher calorific value than RDF and is used in facilities such as cement kilns.
What role is the Port taking in the process? Are you charging waste transfer/RDF companies to use your storage facility, or are you actually buying and selling the RDF?
Pembroke Port is the temporary storage area. This is a collaborative project that would involve us receiving previously processed and baled refuse from waste management companies. These would then be stored temporarily before being loaded on to ships and transported out from the Port. We will charge the waste companies for the storage as well as charging the vessel for berthing fees (use of our quay) and stevedoring services.
There were problems with flies and odour the last time this operation was at Pembroke Port. What is different this time?
The permit will be in our name. We are firmly rooted in Pembrokeshire as a business and everything we do is for the benefit of our wide range of stakeholders. As a Trust Port, we exist to create opportunities for the people and businesses of Pembrokeshire – we are a catalyst for economic growth and our mission is to build prosperity across the Haven. Our staff are also local people, many of them living near the Port and very much part of the community. We would never apply for a permit for a project if we doubted our ability to deliver it well.
There will not be any processing or baling on site. Clearly, we want to avoid any negative impacts to our neighbouring residents, businesses nor indeed the environment in which we work. In 2017, a third-party waste company ran the operation and it is important to clarify the differences between that operation and ours; previously waste was processed and baled on site; this time we would be receiving already processed and baled waste.
We are implementing best practise mitigation measures recommended by experienced operators. We have completed extensive research into this process, including visits to other ports, and we will be adopting the best practise as recommended by the experienced handlers with whom we have met. We will be implementing a series of insect, odour and fire controls and will ensure the following:
- Minimum 8 layers of bale wrap
- Fine mesh net covering bales
- Contact insecticide distributed on boards around stack
- 5m screen surrounding stack with netting = secondary fly net and site screen
- Pesticide control regime primarily focusing on larvicides
- Stock tracking e.g. oldest bales shipped first
- Antibacterial measure implemented as part of offsite processing
- Stringent acceptance and monitoring procedures
- Odour neutralising technology
- Bale reception procedure to identify non-compliant waste
Wales is looking for alternative ways to deal with the waste it generates. RDF export has less impact (Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) even less) on the environment than to keep it in UK landfills. This is primarily due to the large quantities of methane release from landfill and stringent legislation on waste to energy plants in Europe. Sweden has built 33 waste-to-energy plants which provide heat and electricity to millions of Swedish households. But, they are so good at recycling that they need to import waste to keep those plants running. So, in simple economic terms - where there is supply and demand there is a commercial opportunity.
Surely, even on a local level, we also have a responsibility to deal with our own waste?
We are very proud of Pembroke Port’s historical significance as a Dockyard, and we are simply trying to expand trade to increase our abilities as a Port and provide more jobs for the local community. But, we are in competition with other Ports who transport the same waste bales generated across the UK. We must be able to compete with these Ports or jobs will be lost to those areas that are able to deliver the services needed in today’s society.
We are ultimately trying to raise Pembroke Port’s profile in the industry so that it is recognised, in its own right, as a port that has the capacity and capability to handle a variety of trades. When speaking with colleagues in the industry about Pembroke Port, it is clear that its profile has been overshadowed by Milford Haven’s reputation as a well-regarded oil and gas port. The more trades we can attract to Pembroke Port, bearing in mind there are limitations due to our location and hinterland, the more opportunities we will have to promote what the Port can offer.
How many jobs will be created by this operation?
It’s difficult to say at this stage. Until we have a storage permit we cannot engage with the market to secure a commercial agreement. The processor(s) will determine how busy the operation will be and therefore how much manpower will be required.
It’s important to remember not to look at this operation in isolation. The more trades Pembroke Port can attract, the more opportunities there are to raise the Port’ profile which will attract further business and ultimately more jobs.
Will the Port be undertaking any community engagement so that nearby residents and members of the local community can ask questions and find out more?
Yes. If we are successful in obtaining the permit and we have a commercial agreement in place, we will be arranging some local engagement opportunities. This is when we will have the most accurate information to share with everyone.