Here are some of our frequently asked questions

I am concerned about the pollution produced by the plant. Can we expect a dramatic increase of emissions in the local area?

In issuing the EfW plant’s Environmental Permit, the Environment Agency presented its decision summary relating to the potential impacts of the plant on human health and local air quality, which states:


Our conclusion is that we consider the proposed facility is unlikely to contribute to any breach of the relevant air quality standards for human health and the environment…

For the proposed design and operation of the incinerator plant, we believe that emissions of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) have been demonstrated to be insignificant…

We are confident that the stringent controls imposed by UK and European legislation coupled with effective day to day regulation will safeguard human health in the locality of the facility. 

Is there a need for this plant?

Yes. Around 500,000 tonnes of waste from Essex is currently landfilled or exported outside of the county and even abroad to energy-from-waste facilities on the continent.

Will there be an increase in trucks driving through the surrounding villages?

No. All trucks entering the EfW plant will use the existing site road that serves the quarry via the A120. Although the site road crosses 2 local roads, the bollards in place make it impossible for a truck to turn onto the site road at those points.

Will there be an increase in pollution from all of the waste being trucked to the Rivenhall EfW plant?

No. All of that waste currently goes elsewhere – some of it over to the continent for disposal. Some waste will now undoubtedly have a shorter journey.

What happens to the ash left after burning?

Around 20% of the volume of the waste will remain as non-hazardous ash. This will be processed to remove metals for recycling and the remainder will be processed into secondary aggregate for the construction industry.

Will the EfW plant discourage recycling?

No. The EfW plant will incinerate residual waste left over after recycling.

When disposing of household waste, if cardboard or plastics are wet or soiled in any way, they cannot be recycled as they are considered contaminated. This waste still needs to be disposed of safely and as efficiently as possible.

Investment in new or expanded EfW plant’s only take place in well justified cases, in full respect of the waste hierarchy. EfW’s are sized appropriately to cope with demand and are not a replacement for recycling, the plants simply compliments these efforts by reliably treating waste that cannot be recycled.

Does the facility produce renewable energy?

Yes. The EfW plant will generate 49MW of electricity, some of which will be used to power the facility. The rest will be exported to the electricity grid and used to power homes in Essex. It’s classified as ‘renewable’ energy if it’s derived from an organic renewable source. On average, approximately 50% of “black bin” waste is categorised organic/biogenic which means your bins could be lighting your home.

Why do the plans for the site keep changing?

It becomes necessary to alter plans to suit changing industry needs. The waste industry is continually progressing as technologies change, markets evolve and legislation is amended, which the site plans need to follow.

Will the plant harm wildlife?

No. The grounds of the EfW plant will be planted with a variety of vegetation, including some woodland and a medieval moat home to a small colony of great crested newts. Indaver’s Meath facility in Ireland is in a similar rural setting and the grounds are home to hares, bats, newts, foxes, bumblebees and a wide variety of wildflowers and insects.

Ecologists are being consulted about all works on site and supervising the works carried out to protect and preserve the wildlife local to the area.

How much CO2 does the plant produce?

The EfW plant will produce around 500,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. The alternative is to send the waste to landfill where it degrades and produces methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas. Landfill produces an additional 200kg CO2 equivalent per tonne of waste compared to incineration. This means that treating the waste in the Rivenhall  EfW plant actually saves the equivalent of 120,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.

When is construction due to start on site and how long will this take?

Construction has now started, with the overall construction programme set to take four and a half years to complete, in total.

Will there be job opportunities for locals (either in construction or operation)?

Yes. We will be advertising jobs a few months prior to the plant becoming operational. These advertisements will be included in local papers.

In terms of construction, the various companies involved will manage their own recruitment, but we will encourage them to advertise locally, wherever possible.

How does the EfW facility contribute to the circular economy?

The circular economy encourages the elimination of waste and the continual use of resources. Unfortunately, as a nation, we still produce a lot of waste (much of it non-recyclable) that needs to be treated.


Nonrecyclable waste needs secure and reliable treatment to avoid further pollution. Energy from Waste facilities create energy from these contaminated materials and black bin waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill. Plants like the Rivenhall EfW also offer the highest possible recycling rate of the metals that occur in the residue, contributing to a more resource-efficient economy where as many valuable materials are kept in use for as long as possible.

What are the plans for the historical/listed buildings on the site?

Indaver will be preserving the history of the site by restoring and refurbishing the grade II listed Woodhouse Farm and Brewhouse. The proposed plans are to turn these spaces into a visitor centre and museum, we’re considering various options to make use of the other buildings on site.

Will the plant power my home?

The power generated by the plant will be exported to the local electricity distribution network and used locally, though there’s no way to tell exactly which homes it will power.

How tall will the stack be?

The total height of the stack is 55m, this is the height from the ground level that it will be sitting on to the top of the stack.

Relevant to sea level the stack is +85m AOD (Above Ordance Datum), and ground level that is stands on is +30m AOD again showing it is 55m in height.

Surrounding ground level i.e. (Information Hub level) is at +50m AOD meaning that the stack is visible 35m above the surround ground level.

For comparison, the nearby Sheepcotes radio mast rises to 48m above the surrounding ground level. Note: AOD mean Above Ordance Datum, but in simple terms mean above sea level, so +30m in this case means 30m above sea level. In the UK the reference point of sea level is in Cornwall.

Why here?

The Site was allocated as a ‘Preferred Location’ in the Essex and Southend Waste Local Plan 2001. Policy W8A of the 2001 Waste Local Plan (‘the WLP’) permits development at preferred locations subject to compliance with various other policies in the WLP. The relevant plan is the Essex County Council & Southend-on-Sea Borough Council WLP, adopted in July 2017. Policy 3 – Strategic Site Allocations permits development at the Rivenhall site for biological and residual non-hazardous waste management. Supporting text to the policy makes clear that there is no requirement for applicants to demonstrate a quantitative or market need for a proposal on a site allocated in Policy 3. Planning permission was first granted for a recycling and composting facility for the treatment of residual waste in February 2009. A second permission was issued for the development of an Integrated Waste Management Facility on the Site in March 2010, following a ‘call-in’ of the application by the Secretary of State (reference ESS/37/08/BTE). That permission has since been amended by various section 73 and section 96a applications, the latest being the section 73 application that was granted on 26 February 2016 under reference ESS/34/15/BTE. This permission is the ‘operative permission’ and is currently under construction. The Site therefore benefits from allocations in previous and adopted Waste Local Plans dating back more than 20 years. In addition to this, the Site has had planning permission for various forms of waste management since 2008. The principle of such development on the Site is therefore established through multiple layers of planning history. Notably, the Site was allocated for waste management development in advance of any planning permission being issued.