Covanta Incinerator at Rookery Pit – Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need an Incinerator in this area?

The majority of Incinerators that are built in this country – are built with the support of the Local Authorities due to a need in that area.

The Covanta Incinerator at Rookery Pit will be a purely commercial venture and does not involve the local authorities.  During the planning permission process both Central Bedfordshire County Council and Bedford Borough Council opposed the submission – leading ultimately to a Special Parliamentary Procedure being conducted.

Due to the size of the proposed output of (what was at the time) 65MW – the plant was seen as having national significance and planning permission rights were passed to the IPC (Infrastructure Planning Committee) – so local planning did not have a say apart from over the compulsory purchase of land which is why after planning had been granted by the National  IPC – the case was taken to the Special Parliamentary Procedure who concluded in 2013 that planning permission should stand.

Covanta/Veolia have advised that the waste supplied to the Incinerator will be mainly Commercial waste and can be coming from as far away as Birmingham.


What does having planning permission actually mean?

Covanta has been granted a Development Consent Order (DCO)which means they are able to build an Incinerator and associated buildings within the terms laid out in the order.

The Waste and Minerals Team at Central Beds Council will now oversee the build and make sure that the terms set out by the DCO are adhered to. A number of technical schemes need to be submitted by Covanta to the Waste and Minerals Team to set out in detail how the DCO will be achieved.

However – in order to operate the building as an Incinerator – Covanta need to apply for an Environmental Permit a process which is open for public consultation.


Given the location in the heart of a Community Forest and right next to the Millennium Country Park – why did Covanta receive planning in the first place?

There were several factors that pushed the decision in favour of Covanta:

  • the Marston Vale Trust had already received planning for the wind turbine ‘Marston Mill’ on its Forest Centre grounds. At a height of 120.5 meters it had effectively set the limit for any new proposals. At a height of 105 meters the Covanta chimney was seen as not as intrusive as it might have been.
  • there was a clear message at the time that any proposal which included the production of energy was needed
  • we were unfortunate that the Covanta Proposal was one of the first to be considered by the then newly formed Infrastructure Planning Committee (IPC). Due to the Localism Act 2011 the IPC was replaced by the Planning Inspectorate in early 2012 and only stood ‘judgement’ over very few proposals


Who are Veolia and how are they involved?

Veolia is an established French-based Waste Company who currently operate 7 Incineration (EFW) plants in the UK.

With regards to the Rookery Pit Site – BACI understands that Veolia will be:

  • contributing to the Environmental Permit submission
  • managing construction of the site
  • the primary supplier of the waste for incineration


When will we be able to object to the Environmental Permit?

BACI has been informed that Covanta submitted their application for an Environmental Permit on 18th November 2016.  This is several months after their notes to the Community Liaison Panel – which put the submission as mid-September 2016.

We have been informed by the Environmental Agency (EA) that there is currently a backlog at the National Permitting Service and as such it is unlikely to be assessed by the Environment Agency for another 3 months – ie end of February 2017.

We are told it is then likely to take up to another couple of months for the EA to gather all the information it needs and ask any questions of Covanta/Veolia – before it will be open for public consultation.


How do I submit an objection to the Environmental Permit and what do I say?

At this time we believe that objections will be able to be submitted via email, online or by letter.

The Environment Agency is only required to offer 20 working days for the public consultation – so it is important that residents are aware and ready to respond.

BACI will issue a number of Environmental arguments against the Covanta Incinerator in this proposed location that will be available on this website and via social media.  Residents will be able to consider these and use as guidelines or a template for their own submission.


If Covanta does obtain an Environmental Permit and starts operating the Incinerator – won’t that mean employment opportunities?

Despite the size of the development – Covanta’s figures given during a presentation to the Community Liasion Panel in July 2016 estimate only 40 – 50 permanent jobs will be created.