The UK government has granted approval for a controversial 100 MW waste-to-energy CHP plant that will provide electricity and heat for one of the UK’s largest energy users.

The proposed incineration plant will result in the diverting of waste from landfill and demonstrates “the government’s commitment to the promotion of CHP”, said Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks.

“It’s important that we move forward in tackling the UK’s waste problem,” said Wicks. “The proposed plant will make use of local waste for the production of energy rather than contributing to the UK’s landfill.”

Local residents’ concerns about the public health impact of the plant will be addressed through planning conditions and the environmental permit regime, said Wicks. The government has also given the project planning permission.

The 100 MW plant will burn solid recovered fuel (SRF) derived from domestic waste from a wide area of north-west England. The heat and electricity generated by the plant will be used at a major chemicals manufacturing complex in Runcorn, Cheshire, owned by Ineos Chlor.

The government has made biomass facilities, including those using waste materials, a key component of its renewable energy strategy. More than 100 waste incinerators are currently being planned in the UK, according to campaign group UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN).

The Runcorn incinerator has the capacity to burn 850 000 tonnes of fuel per annum, and could take waste from Manchester, Merseyside, Halton, Cheshire and Warrington.

“While acknowledging that this proposal was controversial locally, this approval takes into account the concerns that were raised,” said Wicks. “The key concern of impact on public health will be properly addressed through planning conditions at the construction stage and when the station is operational, through the environmental permitting regime regulated by the Environment Agency.”