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Rank renewables - Josh 284

Another story about mad 'renewables', this time a scheme for burning rubbish (which presumably increases CO2 emissions). The company 'Waste4fuel' have piled up 20,000 tonnes of rubbish but neglected to burn any of it for energy, leaving it, for a number of years, to stink out the neighbourhood and spontaneously catch fire - read about it on the Mail or Express websites, even on the BBC website. 

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Reader Comments (25)

The BBC item shows a lake or river alongside. I wonder what gets washed into that when it rains? Have the EA tested water run-off for toxicity and if not, why not? Bizarre.

Aug 9, 2014 at 5:07 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Has the world gone completely bonkers?

I'm starting to conclude that the answer is "yes"

Aug 9, 2014 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnything is possible

Fancy complaining. It's GREEN - innit? :)

Aug 9, 2014 at 5:11 PM | Registered CommenterRKS

Frowny houses, yep, I bet even the bricks and mortar hate the smell.

This sort of thing is seriously nasty and a offshoot of doo gooding. Like those people who 'rescue' animals and everyone turns a blind eye to rapidly deteriorating conditions beause they want to believe that the fundamental principle.

The UK had the opportunity to incinerate when the landfill rules were proposed. I was living in Coventry at the time and they've burnt rubbish there for ages and didn't have any worries about the recycling targets. Many of the EU countries took this route but the majority of UK councils said 'oh, no, WE'RE going to recycle properly.' Now the rules are beginning to bite and suddenly burning rubbish seems like a good idea but time to do it safely has run out. The authorities let cowboys do this to the poor public because the desperately want a solution.

I hate the EU but invariably it's a UK modification to the rules that makes them truly unworkable.

Aug 9, 2014 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Notice what the BBC chooses to omit from its version of the story. That is the interesting bit. No doubt the editor agonised for ages whether to even include the name of the company because that provides the only hint of context for this piece.

Aug 9, 2014 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Re-classify it as insulation, and claim a government grant for stuffing it into people's cavity walls.

Or perhaps it could attract set-aside grants from the EU, since I don't suppose anything grows on it. If there are some fungi and mould, call it medical research and sell it to Glaxo-Wellcome...

Aug 9, 2014 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Slightly OT, but this is fun... (from a link on the BBC report)

Esso's fuel disappearing from Clegg's estate

Aug 9, 2014 at 8:22 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

'The 'clean energy' challenge deserves a commitment akin to the Manhattan project or the Apollo moon landing.'
Martin Rees, Lord Rees of Ludlow, Peer, former President of the Royal Society

Clean energy, oh my!

Aug 9, 2014 at 8:22 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Would Lord Rees care to enlighten us? Surely he can't mean windmills..?

Aug 9, 2014 at 8:28 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


We have/had a 'fuel from rubbish' incinerator locally, but it hardly ever worked, and nobody wanted to buy the end-product when it did. Having been burned already, I'm not sure it was very calorific - it reminds me of Mexican re-fried beans for some reason...

Aug 9, 2014 at 8:34 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Dig a deep pit, if you haven't got one. Seal it and dump the stuff in and cover it. Preferably add a small amount of water and exclude oxygen when filling ( steam is good). Then pipe the resultant anaerobic methane to a burner.

For best results apply flame to the rear end of each and every one of the green managers, consultants and members of the Council.

Aug 9, 2014 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

jamesp the issue is not whether it makes a lot of electricity but does it prevent us having to pay the landfill tax we've been signed up to.

Aug 9, 2014 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

The best place for rubbish is in well-controlled landfill sites, and we have plenty available. The landfill tax should be scrapped (the other benefit would be a reduction in fly-tipping). Future generations with their advanced technologies will look upon these sites as a marvellous resource, full of H, He, Li, Be, Bo, C, N, O, F, Ne etc etc.

Aug 10, 2014 at 9:21 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip Bratby,
Please relearn your 'Little Beryl Bates Cries Nightly Over Freddy.'
Unless your device anticipates typing as poorly as mine does.
Then, 'Naughty Maggie Allen Sings Poor Sappy Clot.'
(Chemist, retarded.)

Aug 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

Geoff: Sorry (never learned those, chemistry forgotten)

Aug 10, 2014 at 10:23 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

My city has a very high, largely student, transient, flat-dwelling population.

Being young and idealistic - they've all bought in to the ethical imperative of "recycling".

Also, being young, they're quite often preoccupied with the more exciting pursuits of youth - like getting drunk & spending a lot of time in bed.

They solve the problem of paying obeisance to the recycling gods - whilst still pursuing a traditional student lifestyle - by festooning our beautiful Georgian railings with hundreds of supermarket carrier bags containing their offerings of empty beer cans, left-over take-aways, plastic packaging & anything else that the feel it would be ethically dubious to treat as old fashioned rubbish.

On a windy day , the weather, combined with the depredations of the seagulls, make our fair city look like a Brazilian favela before the World Cup clean up.

Aug 10, 2014 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Caroline Lucas and the Green Army should get down there and protest their socks off. If a similar type of irresponsible corporate behaviour was shown by an oil company then they would be down there like a shot. Even if it were a company considering fracking she and her merry band would be down there to clean up the environment before anything had happened. Whoops just remembered

Aug 10, 2014 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

The waste4fuel web site appears to be down!. How telling that the BBC fails mention that this a green scheme gone wrong.

Aug 10, 2014 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Well it is energy from trash. Only the energy from the fire is not very useful, is it? Sort of a symbol for the so-called renewable movement.

Aug 10, 2014 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Not being from the UK, I don't understand how a facility like this could ever have been approved in the first place. We have waste transfer stations in our city in Canada but they are covered facilities with strict environmental controls. They are located in industrial zones not near residential areas.

Aug 10, 2014 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterpotentilla

I'd suggest a compulsory purchase of the nearby properties, at 2x market value, to enable a mandatory move of the UK head offices of WWF, FOE, Greenpeace and the IPPC into the vacated houses.

An incredible situation, how were the relevant approvals issued in the first place? A good investigative journalist could make a name for him or her self.

Before retiring one of my roles was to keep an eye on emerging alternative energy technologies via venture capital investments. I remember a presentation by a newly registered UK company, about 2006/7, it proposed building and operating containerized min-gasification facilities for garbage that would be, unbelievably, run unattended from a central control room. The company name I do not remember but I suspect they were the fore-fathers of waste4fuel, certainly the technology had its roots in the same Scandinavian company as waste4fuel. The proposal was of course laughed out of the room, the individuals making the presentation were very slick with a distinct aura of "scam artist" with hints of organized crime thrown in, sorry about the pun but the concept was garbage. I wonder if their are any connections between waste4fuel, or should that be waste4fool, and the landfill artistes of Naples?

These scams use the typical lack of any technical knowledge and training by those involved in "alternative energy" initiatives to grab a share of the money being thrown around so needlessly.

Aug 10, 2014 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

It is perfectly possible to to use garbage for fuel for area heating and, to some extent, for electricity with no appreciable environmental problems. It has been done for decades in Sweden. However it does require large, purpose-built, incinerators with high combustion temperatures and advanced flue-gas treatment as well as a more or less "just in time" system for delivering the rubbish, with the relatively small quantity on-site at any time being kept under cover.
Actually many swedish towns have built larger incinerators than there is garbage produced locally so you could possibly export the stuff here. However if it has lain around for years in English climate it is probably too soggy and rotten to burn.

Using unsorted garbage as landfill is not a good idea. You usually get big problems with the ground water downstream unless the site is completely surrounded by, or lined with, a thick clay layer. In that case you only need to process the surface runoff.

Aug 10, 2014 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered Commentertty


Yes it is physically possible, first case I remember was a proposed waste incinerator for a large North American city in the 70s. Stack gas clean-up is essential, heavy metals can be problematic. Only practical on a large scale with suitable feedstock sorting. Don't know where the economics are today but back in the 70s and 80s it could not come close to competing with fossil fuels for energy supply, either district heating or power, at least not on a pure investment basis. Distort the economics with government legislation and it might appear to compete but that is, and was, a case of fooling oneself and the investors, what the government gives, the government can, and usually does, take away at a future date.

Aug 10, 2014 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

Er - someone tell me where the Environment Agency are taking the stuff TO..?

That seems to hve been left out of the news articles - surely smart investigative journalists would want to know that..?

Aug 11, 2014 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Found it, on Google Maps: Search for Cornwall Drive, just south of the A20, where it crosses A224.

Aug 11, 2014 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterOzWizard

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