CHEMICAL firm Brunner Mond is planning to build a waste-burning power station at its site in Lostock.

The proposed power station will burn 600,000 tonnes of solid fuel a year, including waste brought in from treatment facilities in the north west and further afield.

The ‘Sustainable Energy Plant’ will supply a third of the company’s energy when it is up and running.

The fuel for the power station will be a mixture of biomass – material derived from plants – and treated municipal solid waste, commercial and industrial waste and solid recovered fuel.

Brunner Mond will not have any involvement in the collection or processing of the waste and all the fuel will have any recyclable content removed. The company plans to ship the fuel to Lostock mainly by rail although some will have to be brought by road.

More than 500 people work at Brunner Mond, making it one of the town’s largest employers. It is the country’s only manufacturer of soda ash and sodium bicarbonate.

But the manufacturing process is energy-intensive and the company currently relies on its own gas-fired combined heat and power plant, operated by energy giant E.ON.

The waste-burning power station, built on the site of the disused power station at Lostock, would also be run by E.ON, using technology already in use in Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Brunner Mond says the new power station would help to secure the future of the business by lowering costs and making it less reliant on gas supplies.

It would also contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gases, producing a much smaller carbon footprint, and would reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

Plans for power plants of this size are decided by the Department for Energy and Climate Change and follow a different path to normal planning applications.

The proposals for the Sustainable Energy Plant are in the early stages of development and this week an environmental impact ‘scoping report’ was submitted to DECC as well as to Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire East Council for their consideration.

An information leaflet is being distributed to homes and businesses in the Lostock area. Public exhibitions are being organised and will take place in December.

A special website is also being set up to give details of the development as the plans progress.

John Kerrigan, managing director of Brunner Mond, said: “The new Sustainable Energy Plant is vital to Brunner Mond’s future as we need to reduce our exposure to increasing energy costs in order to protect our business and the jobs that depend on it.

“Using a waste-derived fuel will be a highly efficient and sustainable way for us to produce the steam that drives our manufacturing process.”

He added: “We have a long-standing commitment to sharing our plans with local people at a very early stage. We are members of this community, we live here as well as work here, so it’s in our own interest to ensure that we take account of everyone’s views.”