FAQ: The Environment

  • What impact will this facility have on the environment?

    The facility will not be granted planning consent unless it can be demonstrated that it will not have a significant impact to the environment. It is the responsibility of the applicant for any facility to demonstrate this to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority, which consults a number of other organisations (such as the Environment Agency) to ask for their opinion on the application.

    The accepted method for an applicant to illustrate the effects of any facility is to perform an Environmental Impact Assessment.


  • What is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)?

    An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process that assesses the potential effects on the environment of a proposed development or project. If the likely effects are unacceptable, measures in design or other mitigation can be put in place to reduce or avoid those effects. If this is not possible, then the development will not be allowed to proceed.

    The potential environmental effects are systematically studied and include visual impact, traffic, air quality, noise, dust, odour, the effect on human health and flood risk to the site (amongst others).


  • Who does the EIA and how do you ensure it is independent?

    The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is prepared by professional technical specialists, who are subject to the professional and ethical standards of their relevant industry body. The EIA is then peer reviewed by other environmental advisors who are a corporate member of IEMA (The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment).

    The findings of the EIA are reviewed by the relevant technical specialists within the Local Planning Authority and also subject to comment by the statutory consultees (i.e. Natural England, Historic England, Highways England, etc.). It is also open to public scrutiny.


  • What about the visual impact? Would the plant be visible from miles away?

    The visual impact of the facility has been evaluated as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment that accompanied the planning application when it was submitted.  The Assessment concluded that the proposed development was appropriate to the setting and townscape character of the site and within the context of the land uses surrounding the proposal. The introduction of the development would not result in any significant effects on the local landscape. 


  • How much traffic will there be? How many heavy good vehicles will be coming and going?

    It is anticipated that RDF will be delivered to the site via a combination of residual waste collection vehicles (RCVs) that will typically be 18 to 22 tonnes (gross weight) or articulated bulk haulage vehicles from nearby RDF transfer stations. 

    A traffic assessment has been undertaken as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study for the facility. It is estimated that, once operational, there will be 110 HGV movements a day – or 55 journeys into the facility and 55 from site, including 9 deliveries and collections of processing materials and residues per day. This equates to one extra vehicle on the roads every 6.5 minutes.

    There will also be the car journeys associated with the staff travelling to work, although a Travel Plan will be in place to minimise any disruption or congestion.

  • What measures are being taken to avoid creating traffic jams or more congestion?

    Recognising that traffic is a serious concern for many people, the proposals will take into account both construction and operational traffic and put forward mitigation measures, such as a Construction Traffic Management Plan. Once the facility is operational, a Travel Plan for staff and visitors will be in place to minimise the number of vehicle movements. HGV deliveries are expected to be spread evenly throughout the 12 hour period and there is unlikely to be a peak in movements.  However, if necessary, deliveries may be pre-booked into the plant prior and scheduled to avoid busy times during the morning and evening.

    We will set up a Community Liaison Group that will monitor feedback from residents on any increases in traffic congestion or other concerns. 

  • What are the proposed routes to and from the facility? Can delivery vehicles take short cuts?

    The site is located in close proximity to the strategic road network. HGVs are anticipated to arrive via the A19 to the north or the A231- Sunderland Highway to the south.  Given the site is in an established industrial area, the roads nearby have been designed to cater for HGV movements and the number generated by this development could be accommodated within the existing capacity of the highway network. HGV traffic will be restricted from using routes via local roads.

  • Has rail been considered for bringing in the RDF?

    No, as this is not a practical or economically viable option, given there needs to be waste loading facilities where the waste arises. Since the waste may come from several different sources, this is not cost effective. Finally, the waste may arise from different places as contracts change, so building rail infrastructure is no guarantee that it can be used in the future. The feasibility may be reviewed once contracts for waste are in place.

  • What are the delivery and collection hours proposed for the facility?

    Monday to Fridays – 7am to 7pm

    Saturday – 7am to 2pm

    Sundays – None


  • What about the other traffic on the road?

    Other traffic on the road has been considered as part of the traffic assessment. It was concluded that deliveries and other vehicles travelling to and from this facility would not interfere or impact on other road users.

  • Does the EIA take into account proposed new developments too?

    Yes, as part of the pre-application process, we liaised with Sunderland City Council so that we could include any new developments within our EIA.  Nearby development projects which have the benefit of planning permission, and therefore are likely to come forward in the foreseeable future, are included in assessments to ensure cumulative effects of the proposed development together with forthcoming schemes are considered. 

  • More traffic means more diesel fumes. What will be done to ensure that the air quality is not affected by the facility?

    The results of the Air Quality Assessment, based on predicted traffic generated from the proposed development and other nearby development, has indicated that air quality would not be significantly adversely affected as it represents only a minor increase to the overall traffic in the local area.

    The impact of additional traffic resulting from facility has been considered and is not significant so that its impact on the surrounding air quality is negligible. 

  • What noise can be expected?

    The Noise Assessment shows that while some noise is to be expected, the industrial setting means that it is unlikely to impact on residential properties or other receptors sensitive to noise. The noise assessment found that the noise levels associated with the operation of the proposed REC would be below background levels at the nearest properties both during day and night periods, creating a negligible impact. 

  • Will it be noisy during construction?

    Noise will always be kept to a minimum but the industrial setting means that construction noise is unlikely to be heard over existing industrial processes, by neighbouring communities. The application is likely to be conditioned to require a Construction Management Plan to be in place during this phase of the development which will assist in reducing noise and mitigating any adverse impacts.

  • What about odour?

    The facility is very unlikely to cause any detectable odour issues. The Odour Risk Assessment undertaken as part of the Environmental Statement demonstrated that the odour effects on all local receptors would be negligible and the proposed development was judged to be insignificant in terms of odour effects. 

    There will be no outside storage of material.

    For the gasification plant, the RDF is unloaded within a closed reception hall, with fast acting roller shutter doors that are kept shut (except to let delivery vehicles in and out). The reception hall is maintained at a negative air pressure by use of air intake fans located within the hall itself. These fans channel the air through ductwork to the gasification chamber, where it is used to burn the synthetic gas, which has been generated as part of the process. As a result, any odours are destroyed within the gasification chamber.


  • Does the process extract water from or discharge water into waterways?

    No. The gasification process does not take water from or discharge water into any waterways, as it is a closed system.