Frequently asked questions

  1. Who are Urbaser?
  2. Who are Balfour Beatty?
  3. Why is a new facility needed?
  4. Can’t we just recycle more?
  5. What is being proposed?
  6. Why Courtauld Road?
  7. What is Mechanical Biological Treatment?
  8. Why was MBT chosen?
  9. What are the benefits of MBT?
  10. How was the size of the facility calculated?
  11. Where will the waste come from?
  12. What will happen to the outputs of the process?
  13. What will the visual impact be?
  14. Why is there a stack?
  15. What will the traffic impacts be?
  16. Will the process be noisy?
  17. Will the process generate bad odour?
  18. Will an MBT facility attract pests, vermin or birds?
  19. Will there be any litter problems associated with the MBT plant?
  20. How will flood risk be controlled?
  21. What about construction impacts?
  22. How will the facility benefit the local community?
  23. What involvement does the local community have?

Who are Urbaser?

Urbaser owns and runs more than 200 waste management facilities worldwide, including more than 40 Mechanical Biological Treatment facilities. In total Urbaser processes more than seven million tonnes of waste every year, serving more than 50 million people worldwide with 35,000 employees. Urbaser works with the communities it serves to maximise the social benefits of its facilities.

Who are Balfour Beatty?

Balfour Beatty is a leading international infrastructure group. With 36,000 employees, we provide innovative and efficient infrastructure that underpins our daily lives, supports communities and enables economic growth. We finance, develop, build and maintain complex infrastructure such as transportation, power and utility systems, social and commercial buildings.

Why is a new facility needed?

Modern environmental and sustainable practice set out in European law means that we cannot continue to rely on landfill to dispose of our waste in the way we have before. This means we must look at alternative options for managing waste sustainably. Waste sent directly to landfill sites generates methane which is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

In addition, untreated waste being disposed of in landfill is subject to Landfill Tax. Landfill Tax is currently £72 per tonne and is set to rise to £80 per tonne in April 2014. In 2010/11, Essex County Council paid over £15.8 million in Landfill Tax.

This facility will therefore allow us to manage waste more responsibly in the long term.

Can’t we just recycle more?

The Councils in the Essex Waste Partnership have all agreed a target to recycle and compost a minimum of 60% of household waste by 2020. However, this still leaves approximately 377,000 tonnes of residual waste per year to be treated by 2040.

In addition to treating non-recyclable waste, the facility will help increase recycling by recovering metals, plastics and other recyclable materials such as cardboard and aggregates for construction that would have ended up in landfill. By recycling these valuable resources we reduce the need for raw materials, bringing benefits to the local economy and environment.

What has been built?

Following a lengthy and detailed procurement process, Essex County Council and Southend-on-Sea Council awarded Urbaser Balfour Beatty the contract to build and operate a Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility with a Visitor Centre and outdoor education zone. Urbaser Balfour Beatty obtained planning permission to develop this facility which will reduce the environmental impact of waste being disposed of in landfill.

The facility will treat all of the residual household waste generated in Essex and Southend. This will make the county self-sufficient in terms of waste treatment capacity; keep “waste miles” down and support recycling through recovery of recyclable materials.

Why Courtauld Road?

The Courtauld Road site in Basildon is the correct location to develop a waste treatment facility, enabling Essex and Southend-on-Sea to manage their wastes locally and sustainably. The site is identified within the Essex and Southend Waste Local Plan as a preferred location for future waste management uses and in 2008 planning permission was secured for the development of a similar integrated waste management facility. Part of that permission has already been implemented, such as the enabling works required to relocate the site’s flood compensation and ecological resources. Whilst the Urbaser Balfour Beatty facility will occupy the same site, the facility is smaller in size and offers a different technology (not including Anaerobic Digestion) in comparison to the previous permission. .

What is Mechanical Biological Treatment?

Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) processes black bag waste, recovering items which could be recycled and treating the left over waste to reduce its environmental impact. This is beneficial on three fronts: more materials will be recovered for recycling; reducing and treating waste helps to prevent the release of harmful greenhouse gases; and  it will help to minimise the rising cost of sending waste to landfill.

Why was MBT chosen?

The procurement process allowed bidders to propose alternative solutions; in the final analysis Urbaser Balfour Beatty’s MBT based proposal was seen as offering the most appropriate solution. Importantly the solution is aligned with the Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy which proposes (in combination with a high level of recycling and composting) the establishment of MBT to enable further recycling and reduce the quantity of biodegradable waste sent to landfill.

What are the benefits of MBT?

  • MBT plays an important role in delivering sustainable recovery of value from waste.
  • MBT provides robust and safe treatment of waste that cannot be recycled.
  • MBT allows materials such as metals, plastics and aggregates (such as gravel replacement) to be recycled, which would otherwise be lost in landfill.
  • MBT reduces our reliance on landfill and reduces Landfill Tax costs.
  • MBT operates safely and is strictly regulated to protect the environment and human health.

How was the size of the facility calculated?

The size of the facility has been determined so as to be able to treat all the residual household waste generated within Essex and Southend. There is a seasonal fluctuation in the amount of waste generated and the facility is designed to accommodate this. In addition there is some remaining capacity for business waste similar in nature to household waste, for example from offices and caterers. The size of the facility provides a cost-effective solution and takes into account many important factors:

  • National and local recycling and composting targets – the facility will help the county boost recycling performance.
  • Population increase and housing growth.
  • New recycling schemes in the pipeline.
  • The proposed plans for treating organic waste.

Where will the waste come from?

The waste being treated at the proposed MBT facility will come from the 12 district and borough councils in Essex and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council. There will also be some capacity for local business waste, helping to reduce the total amount of waste to landfill.

Waste Sources

What will happen to the outputs of the process?

Recyclable materials such as metals, plastics, paper, card and aggregates will be separated out for reprocessing. In order to ensure flexibility of the process over the lifetime of the facility, the remaining material (around 50% of the original tonnage) can be processed to form two different products. The first of these options is to produce Stabilised Output Material which can be safely landfilled. The second option is to produce Solid Recovered Fuel which can be transferred to another facility and used to generate electricity. By providing this level of flexibility we can ensure the best possible value for money for the tax payers of Essex and Southend.

What will the visual impact be?

We have had ongoing discussions with Essex County Council and the Design Council to ensure the facility is of a high quality and addresses comments received from stakeholders. The building has been designed to fit into its place in Basildon so that it will have a positive impact on the surrounding area.

The most industrial part of the development will be along the A127 Arterial Road, with a softer design to the buildings that face Courtauld Road, using timber cladding and lots of landscaping. The Visitor Centre will be a welcoming space with plenty of natural daylight and attractive gardens to the front.

Why is there a stack?

The air within the buildings is actively managed and the stack plays an important role in preventing odour escaping from the building. Air is drawn through the entire building by a negative air pressure system, which means that odour cannot escape through open doors. The air is passed through large filters (bio-filters) to remove moisture and odours so that the air released from the stack is clean and does not smell.

Air diagram

What will the traffic impacts be?

It is estimated that the construction phase of the development will generate a maximum of 96 vehicle deliveries in a 12 hour period, up to 50 of which will be HGVs.

During operations, we anticipate that on a typical day there will be 302 vehicles arriving at the Facility over a 12 hour period, 206 of which will be HGVs. The anticipated movements in the a.m. and p.m. peak hours are less than those in the previous planning application.

The proposal has been supported by a Transport Assessment to determine the likely impact and acceptability of HGV movements on the local highway network.

The facility will be treating waste that is already transported by road around the county for disposal. The roads leading from the site to the A127 are predominantly wider roads with either industrial units or houses which are set back from the carriageway.

A preferred route for both construction traffic and operational HGV traffic has been identified. This route will be used from the site onto the local highway network whenever possible:

  • Depart from the site turning right onto Courtauld Road;
  • Travel west on Courtauld Road; and
  • Continue onto the A132 East Mayne or A1235 Crane Farm Road via the Courtauld Road/A132 roundabout junction.

This route has been identified as it is the shortest route to the strategic Highway Network; and it also avoids residential areas and sensitive land uses.

Peak HGV movements will occur outside the traditional weekday morning and evening rush hours, with the highest number of HGV movements predicted to occur between 10am and 2pm – this is a reflection of when Refuse Collection vehicles will need to come to the site to empty their loads.

The site has been designed to ensure that delivery vehicles will all queue within the site boundary.

We have also built a new roundabout to serve the facility and a pedestrian crossing, both of which will help calm traffic on Courtauld Road. As planning permission has already been granted at the site for a larger facility, the traffic anticipated to be generated from the proposed facility represents a reduction in overall traffic movements.

Will the process be noisy?

The waste handling and processing will take place inside the fully enclosed and sound-proofed buildings. Fast acting roller-shutter doors will ensure that noise does not escape. Landscaping will provide further screening from nearby buildings and neighbours to ensure that noise levels are kept to a minimum and within acceptable limits.

A detailed noise study is being undertaken as part of the Environmental Assessment, which will be submitted with the planning application. Strict noise levels will also be imposed by the Environment Agency as part of the Environmental Permit to operate the facility.

Will the process generate bad odour?

The MBT facility will use state-of-the-art technology to ensure that there is no significant impact on local air quality and that the risk of odour is minimised.  The facility is located within an enclosed building and potential odours will be controlled through the building ventilation system where negative pressure will be maintained to ensure that air is drawn back into the building and does not escape. Vehicles will enter the facility through fast acting roller shutter doors. Air from the treatment process will be passed through bio-filters to cleanse it before it is returned to the atmosphere. For further information see FAQ: Why is there a stack?

Will an MBT facility attract pests, vermin or birds?

All waste will be delivered to the facility in enclosed vehicles and unloaded within the waste reception building. The enclosed nature of MBT operations will limit the potential to attract vermin and birds. Effective housekeeping and on-site management of tipping and storage areas will minimise the risk that flies could accumulate during hot weather.

Will there be any litter problems associated with the MBT plant?

All waste will be delivered to the facility in enclosed vehicles and unloaded within the waste reception building. In addition good house-keeping practices will minimise the risk of litter.

How will flood risk be controlled?

Storm waters will be managed on-site to ensure that flood risk in the area is controlled. A Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) lagoon will be developed on the site to accommodate storm waters and to ensure there is no added flood risk to the northern side of the A127. Surface water will be discharged to the nearby watercourse in agreement with the Environment Agency.

What about construction impacts?

Balfour Beatty is in the Top 50 companies in the Considerate Constructors Scheme and we are committed to maintaining good relationships with our neighbours.

We understand the impact that noise, dust and vibration may have on the surrounding environment. As such we will seek to minimise this impact through the use of sympathetic plant and working methods. We will maintain a clean environment and keep public roads and pedestrian access routes clean and clear at all times.

All site personnel, including delivery drivers, will be briefed to ensure that they respect the local environment and maintain a high level of conduct throughout all the construction works. This will include wearing acceptable clothing and courteous behaviour to the general public.

How will the facility benefit the local community?

Employment for local people – we will offer employment opportunities throughout the supply chain and focus on recently unemployed skilled workers from the local area.

100% job interview for Essex residents who meet the job criteria

Apprenticeships – we have committed to a target of 8% of our workforce being Apprentices during the construction phase (our apprenticeship scheme is very successful; we have set a target of a minimum of 75% of our Apprentices completing the framework).

Student work placements – learn about the working environment and improve your skills in administration, communications, construction, ecology or engineering.

Education/Visitor Centre and wildlife zone – education is a key element of the overall scheme and dedicated education and meeting facilities will be included as part of the development. These facilities can be used by schools and business as well as providing meeting places more generally for local community groups. The visitor centre is designed to demonstrate sustainable building practices.

Learning – we will host guided tours and workshops for schools and community groups.

Considerate construction – Balfour Beatty is in the Top 50 companies in the Considerate Constructors Scheme. We pride ourselves on being a good neighbour and go beyond best practice principles.

What involvement does the local community have?

Throughout the planning application process, Urbaser Balfour Beatty were fully committed to consulting with the local community and maintaining open channels of communication. A range of exhibitions, newsletters and public notices enabled Urbaser Balfour Beatty to communicate their proposals to local residents and stakeholders were able to provide valuable feedback which was taken into account in the planning application process. If you would like to ask a question or make a comment on the proposals please see the Contact us page of this website.

Urbaser Balfour Beatty are working closely with the community to ensure that potential impacts of the scheme are minimised and benefits are maximised. We have invited local residents to join a Community Liaison Group (CLG) and get involved in the Visitor Centre. The CLG meetings were held during the construction stage and will continue on an on-going basis into the operational stage.

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Public statement from the Contractor and Shareholders following the execution of the Amendment and Settlement Agreement

A spokesperson on behalf of Urbaser Balfour Beatty said: “Essex County Council (ECC) and UBB Waste (Essex) Limited (UBB) have agreed to settle a dispute regarding UBB’s design, construction and operation of the mechanical and biological waste treatment facility, otherwise known as the Tovi Eco Park, in Basildon, Essex.  “No money will be payable by… Read More