Natural England objects to proposed jet fuel from waste plant, backed by BA, Shell and Velocys
BA has been trying to get some jet fuel made from domestic waste that would otherwise go to landfill, so it can claim it is using “low carbon” fuels. There were plans for a plant in east London, by Solena, back in 2014 but that never got off the ground; Solena went bust in October 2015. Now BA and Shell and Velocys are hoping for a plant on an 80-acre site on Humberside, to convert waste that would go to landfill, into jet fuel. However, Natural England are worried it could harm local wildlife and have filed an objection. Velocys says the plant would turn household waste into 60 million litres of “low-carbon” jet fuel every year. The project is backed by £4.5m of investment from Shell and British Airways, alongside a £434,000 grant from the Department of Transport. In a letter dated 20 February 2020 Natural England said it objects to the development because trucks ferrying waste to the site could increase nitrogen oxide levels – which can cause serious health impacts for humans and wildlife. It is also concerned construction and waste from the site could disturb nearby habitats for rare birds. It is now for North East Lincolnshire Council to decide whether to approve the scheme.
Natural England objects to proposed green jet fuel plant backed by BA and Shell
First of its kind plant could slash carbon emissions from flights, but Natural England are worried it could harm local wildlife
By Madeleine Cuff (The i)
Thursday, 2nd April 2020
Plans to build a low-carbon jet fuel plant on the Humber Estuary are in jeopardy after Natural England filed an objection to the development.
Developer Velocys wants to develop Europe’s first full scale green jet fuel plant in Lincolnshire, turning household waste into 60 million litres of “low-carbon” jet fuel every year.
The project is backed by £4.5m of investment from Shell and British Airways, alongside a £434,000 grant from the Department of Transport.
But Velocys’ attempts to gain planning permission for the 80-acre site have stalled after Natural England filed an objection to the plans in February.
In a letter dated 20 February 2020 Natural England said it objects to the development because trucks ferrying waste to the site could push up nitrogen oxide levels – polluting gases that can cause serious health impacts for humans and wildlife. It is also concerned construction and waste from the site could disturb nearby habitats for rare birds.
The proposed development lies next to protected wet grassland and open water habitats, where birds such as lapwings, curlews, teals, egrets and avocets roost and feed.
Natural England has demanded a more detailed assessment of the development’s potential impact on air quality and wildlife before it considers changing its mind.
“Natural England notes that the application site is located in close proximity to the Humber Estuary [Site of Special Scientific Interest],” it warned. “Based on the plans submitted, Natural England considers that the proposed development could have potential significant effects on the interest features for which the site has been notified.”
The objection does not prevent North East Lincolnshire Council approving the scheme, but it does make winning the green light much trickier for Velocys. It has already led to significant delays to the scheme, which had expected to receive planning approval by Autumn 2019.
Velocys insists the scheme could be built and operated without significant impacts on human health or local wildlife, and argues the jet fuel would save 80,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year from flights.
It told i it has met with Natural England to discuss its concerns, and said it was “confident” the project would progress. “This is a complex and unique development, the first of its kind on this scale in Europe, so it is essential that appropriate consultees thoroughly review all information,” a spokesperson said.
Paul Duncan, North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Area Manager for Natural England, told i: “We recognise the site’s potential benefits and we have not objected outright to it. What we have done is request more information about work to mitigate potential damage to the local area and wildlife, which is internationally recognised for its precious natural heritage and rare bird species.”
Yet another “first” household & commercial waste to aviation fuel plant planning application – Velocys, Shell, BA
DfT, always trying to make aviation growth look “green”, to pay £434,000 to fund waste-to-jetfuel project
A project to turn landfill waste into (quotes) “sustainable” jet fuel has received a major boost by securing almost £5m of funding from the government and industry backers. The DfT has committed £434,000 to fund the next stage of the project, which will involve engineering and site studies to scope potential for a waste-based jet fuel plant in the UK. This will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste – otherwise destined for landfill – and convert it into jet fuel. The project is being led by biofuels firm Velocys, which has committed £1.5m to the next phase of development. The scheme has also secured a further £3m from industry partners, including Shell and British Airways. BA hopes to use the fuel, to claim it is cutting its carbon emissions (while continuing to grow, burning ever more fuel). The DfT is keen to give the impression that UK aviation expansion is fine, if some biofuels, or alternative fuels, are used. The funding for the Velocys project is part of £22m alternative fuels fund from the government, to advance development of “sustainable” fuels for aviation and freight transport. As of April 2018 renewable jet fuel also qualifies for credits under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO).
Solena, the company meant to be producing jet fuel from London waste for BA, goes bankrupt
In February 2010 it was announced that British Airways had teamed up with American bioenergy company Solena Group to establish “Europe’s first” sustainable jet fuel plant, which was set to turn London’d domestic waste into aviation fuel. The plan was for BA to provide construction capital for a massive plant somewhere in East London. BA committed to purchasing all the jet fuel produced by the plant, around 16 million gallons a year, for the next 11 years at market competitive prices. BA had hoped that this 2% contribution to its fuel consumption – the equivalent to all its fuel use at London City airport – would give it green credibility, and it would claim it cut its carbon emissions. The timescale for the plant to be built kept slipping. Nothing has been heard of it for a long time. Now it has been announced that Solena has gone into bankruptcy in the USA. It was never clear why, if genuinely low carbon fuels could be produced from London’s waste, why these should not be used for essential vehicles in London – and why they would instead become a PR exercise for an airline. British Airways and the company Velocys are listed as creditors of Solena.