AN energy plant in Lostock Gralam has won permission to increase its output by 50 per cent as building work gets underway.

Tata Chemicals Europe’s (TCE) proposal to up its 'Lostock Sustainable Energy Plant' output from 60 MWe to 90 MWe has been approved by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) – which also dismissed the option of a public inquiry.

The plant was granted permission on appeal in 2012, despite widespread objection from within the town and borough, and these latest plans were again met with criticism when submitted in August.

TCE said the increase in power output was possible due to the availability of more efficient equipment and the potential to use waste fuel of ‘higher calorific value’.

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Under initial planning consent, the plant would recover energy from burning 600,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste, producing electricity for the National Grid to consistently power around 125,000 homes.

Having considered matters such as transport, nearby developments and waste fuel sourcing, BEIS Secretary of State Greg Clark MP has ruled that the development should be allowed to progress.

Gareth Leigh, head of infrastructure planning at BEIS, said: “[Mr Clark] is of the view that the varied development does not result in a development that is fundamentally different in character or scale to that originally consented.”

Northwich Guardian:

Mr Clark had considered responses from MPs Esther McVey, Mike Amesbury and Fiona Bruce, as well as Northwich Town Council, Pickmere Parish Council, Rudheath Parish Council, three councillors, Cheshire Anti-Incineration Network and 54 residents.

Cheshire West and Chester Council also called for the plans to be resubmitted, although Natural England and the Environment Agency did not register any objections.

READ >>> Calls for Tata to resubmit waste plant bid

It was decided that an environmental impact assessment was not necessary, with modelling data showing that pollutant emissions would be marginally lower under the new plans, with no increase in fuel stocks and therefore no increase in transport emissions.

Mr Leigh added: “[TCE] has stated that the increase in the generating capacity of the varied development will be possible through the installation of more efficient technology and because there is the potential for increased generation through the use of waste fuel stock with a higher calorific value than originally anticipated.

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“[Mr Clark] notes that the varied development will not increase any additional environmental impacts from those assessed for the consented development, it will not result in a change to the fuel source, and no changes are proposed to the layout of the site or building parameters.”

Construction is set to take three years. Once operational, the process would also provide steam for Tata's chemical operations.