Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the proposed site?
The proposed facility would be located on vacant land within the established Oldhall Industrial Estate between the A78 and Long Drive, on the southern side of the Lowmac Alloys materials recycling facility, and to the east of the Shewalton Waste Transfer Station operated by North Ayrshire Council.
Who currently owns the site?
The land is owned by Lowmac Alloys, part of the wider area specialising in waste handling and other industrial activities. The site previously had permission for an energy recovery from waste facility, similar to that being proposed.
Lowmac currently operates a materials recycling facility on the adjacent site, with a permit from Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to process mixed waste for recycling. They currently extract large volumes of recyclable materials for reuse, and the leftover waste is currently transported by road to Hull before being exported to other European countries for use in energy generation. This fuel would instead be available for the proposed Oldhall ERF.
Current waste management activity at Lowmac would continue as normal. As well as the Irvine site, Lowmac has two other waste handling facilities in the area that could also provide fuel for the proposed facility.
How would the Energy Recovery Facility work?
- An enclosed conveyor belt transfers the waste from the Lowmac Alloys site immediately next door.
- Post-recycled waste from a bunker is put into a fuel hopper by a crane and placed on a moving grate.
- The waste is treated at high temperatures.
- The hot air created passes through a boiler that converts water into high pressure steam.
- This steam drives a highly efficient turbine to produce electricity.
- Hot air from the boiler is treated to meet strict air quality standards, with particles and residues filtered out.
- The electricity generated is exported via an underground cable to the national grid to be used by homes and businesses.
- Part of the steam created could be used to supply heat to other nearby businesses.
- By-products such as ash and metals can be reused and recycled. Ash is recycled for use as an aggregate in construction, for example.
- Air quality is continuously monitored to ensure it meets strict environmental standards.
- A control room monitors the whole process to safeguard health and environment.
How will you protect local air quality?
Oldhall ERF would be subject to a strict Environmental Permit regulated by SEPA. We would use advanced controls and performance monitoring technology to make sure air emissions meet stringent modern standards.
As part of the Environmental Impact Assessment which will support the planning application, we are undertaking a detailed assessment of the potential effects on air quality, looking at emissions from the stack, as well as HGVs visiting the facility. This information will be provided as part of the EIA Report which will accompany the planning application.
Will you impact local ecology?
No. The impacts of our facility on the adjoining Oldhall Ponds wildlife site and reserve have been carefully assessed and we would not cause harm to the habitats or wildlife that use them. We’re continuing to carry out a range of surveys of local habitats and wildlife and will work closely with the Scottish Wildlife Trust who manages the site. We will also ensure that disturbance to wildlife is minimised during construction.
Will the facility be noisy?
No. The facility’s design means that almost all activity would take place indoors and therefore any noise impacts in the wider area would be insignificant.
We have carried out background noise monitoring and are using that data to assess the potential effects on the nearest receptors to the site, having regard to published standards and guidance. This information will be provided as part of the EIA Report which will accompany the planning application.
Will it create more traffic?
We believe that the project would have little or no impact on traffic because:
- No HGVs will need to go through any residential areas or the town. All construction and operational HGVs would have direct easy access to the site from the A71 and A78 via Long Drive.
- Lowmac will supply a substantial proportion of the fuel we need from materials already being delivered to their site next door.
- Waste would no longer need to be transported away from the Lowmac site, and we estimate this would take up to 20 HGVs a day off the roads.
How will the facility be designed?
Our proposed design can be seen here on our website. While we are limited in the changes we can make to the design and layout of the facility itself (as it is largely governed by the plant within the building), we would like people’s views on the colouring and finishes of the building.
How tall will the facility be?
Based on the current design, the tallest part of the facility (the flue stack) would be no more than 60 metres high. By way of a comparison, the stack for the approved biomass power facility at the nearby GSK site is 73 metres high. The footprint of the facility is much smaller than that of the Caledonian papermill or Ardagh Glass factory at Portland Place in Irvine.
How will the heat generated be used?
We’re currently looking at options to provide nearby commercial and industrial users with the heat we generate. This would make the process even more efficient, and we would welcome suggestions on this as part of any feedback.
How will the planning process work?
The proposed Oldhall facility requires planning consent, and we plan to submit a planning application to North Ayrshire Council. The main steps for the project are set out below (as of May 2019).
We began the planning process by speaking with the Council, who provided advice on the process, the policies against which the proposals would be judged, and how best to approach our public consultation.
We then carried out what is known as a ‘scoping exercise’, which confirmed our proposals would require an Environmental Impact Assessment, and which areas required detailed studies to be prepared to support our application.
We are consulting people locally to seek their views on our proposals, and take these into account as we finalise our plans.
Once we have finalised our application, it will then be made to North Ayrshire Council, who will consult all relevant technical stakeholders on the application.
These will include SEPA, Environmental Health (North Ayrshire), Highways (North Ayrshire), the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Historic Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), and Scottish Water among others. In addition, and importantly, the Council will consider the proposals’ compatibility with planning policy.
Once complete, the Council’s professional officers will assess the merits of the application and make a recommendation on whether the proposals can be supported.
Interested parties will be able to comment on the planning application itself once it has been submitted – details will be available on the North Ayrshire Council website, and at the council offices. More details of the planning process are available on the North Ayrshire council website at: www.north-ayrshire.gov.uk/planning-and-building-standards.
How will you be a good neighbour?
As well as creating local jobs and investment, we intend to play an active role in the local community and support both local community and environmental initiatives. As part of our consultation, we’re interested in your suggestions for relevant local or regional community projects or good causes we could support.
Will you impact carbon dioxide levels?
The carbon impacts of the Oldhall ERF have been assessed against a variety of scenarios, including business as usual, landfilling all materials, and only generating electricity.
In every scenario which includes building the ERF, there is a substantial beneficial effect, reducing the carbon burden of the materials handled substantially. A provisional illustration of this is given below, and will be confirmed in the planning application.
GWP100a (ktCO2e) stands for Global Warming Potential, (which is by convention measured over 100 years), and ktCO2e stands for thousands of tonnes of Carbon Dioxide equivalent.
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