Concerned residents told 'experimental' facility near Somerset city 'nothing to worry about'

Somerset residents concerned about an ‘experimental’ facility being built near their homes have been assured there is ‘nothing to worry about’. Work is underway on a structure for a new method of dealing with household waste at a location near Haybridge, just outside Wells. Residents are concerned about emissions close to their homes, as well as to the Bovis homes building site for more than 200 homes and a planned primary school, due to be completed in the next few years.

However Rhiannan Thomas, sales and marketing manager for PyroCore, the company behind the plan, insisted residents have “nothing to worry about.”

Neighbours worried about possible fumes

Maggie Coles is a resident of a nearby new build and attended the parish council meeting on Wednesday, July 31, about the PyroCore development. She is just one of a number of worried locals. She said: “The woman in charge of PyroCore stood up in the meeting and admitted there would be emissions from the site.

“A scientist there said that the prevailing winds would be westerly taking any emissions across the site where the school would be built. “They have a 12 month lease from L A Moore, who own the land, with an option to renew. “I think it’s just a way of setting up a full scale plant later.”

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PyroCore’s spokesman has insisted to Somerset Live that there are no plans for a permanent facility at the site, next to St Cuthberts Mill, famous for making high quality artist papers.

Philip Staple, production manager at the mill, said: “As far as I know they have leased the land from L A Moore, it’s nothing to do with the mill or the company. “They’ve applied for permission for lay a concrete slab and asked us to move a skip a little to allow access for a lorry. “There is a fence between us now which is new.

“I am not aware of anything about emissions, but our workers are outside next to the site.” Alan Walker, Chairman of St Cuthberts Mill Limited, added: “PyroCore Limited has nothing whatsoever to do with St Cuthberts Mill.”

A plan of the Bovis Wookey Hole site – which would be near the PyroCore facility

Reassurance from PyroCore

The location of the research and development plant is close to the new housing development by Bovis Homes and a proposed school will be built very close to the site. However a previous comment from Bovis states the proposed new school would not open until 2022.

The PyroCore plant should be gone before that – as the company insists it will only be carrying out research and development near Wells for a 12 month period. The firm also said it wants locals to be ‘proud’ of the pioneering research they are planning to undertake near Wells. And it insists the facility it is putting together is not an incinerator, with the company actually intending to reduce plastic waste to protect the environment.

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Concerns have been raised by residents that PyroCore had started building before planning permission had been granted and before a full public consultation could be made.

There is a scaffold structure with a canvas surround at the site at the moment, with a portable site office, but no equipment has been assembled to date. A spokesman for PyroCore said: “It is a common misconception, but pyrolysis is NOT incineration. “Any emissions will be for steam and heat loss.”

The spokesman wanted to assure residents on a number of points:

  • Any emissions from the research and development site will be minimal. There will be no pollutants emitted, the chimney is for heat loss.
  • The site will be used for 12 months and is a sort of ‘show home’ for customers to see a small scale working pant.
  • The process is self-contained and does not produce waste in the normal sense of the word. All the household waste is changed into other things, gas, liquid or solid, that can be re-used.
  • The focus of the company is on cleaner and more effective community-based waste to energy and waste to product solution; allowing communities to benefit from the waste that cannot be recycled and would otherwise end up in landfill.
  • This is not a precursor to a larger plant on this site.

The PyroCore spokesman added: “We would like the community to ultimately be proud of what we are doing.

“This is the way to stop plastics getting to the oceans and reduce landfill whilst dealing with household waste locally.”

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Council disagreements over experimental waste facility

St Cuthbert Out parish council recently voted to support the PyroCore plans – but only by a majority of one. Edwin Danson,  councillor for St Cuthberts Out, resigned following the meeting, “not because of the outcome to agree to planning, but by the manner in which was agreed to”, he wrote in an open email. A consultation period to seek feedback from the public has been extended to August 21.

What is pyrolysis?

Pyrolysis is a new idea where household waste will be heated in a process designed to reduce and possibly stop the need for landfill sites.

The process occurs in a sealed system, with no emissions and no waste. The PyroCore facility near Wells will be used to test the idea, with a view to tackling the problems of plastic pollution and waste facing the whole country. Using a small scale research and development plant household waste will be heated, with little or no oxygen, and the various gases, liquids and ash will be separated to be re-used.

It does not burn anything like an incinerator, PyroCore say, but changes the chemical composition of the household waste – producing ash for the garden and solids to be used in paving, as well as oils that can be used elsewhere and gas for bio-mass.

Concerned residents told 'experimental' facility near Somerset city 'nothing to worry about'The technology is being developed, with the aim of reducing the need for landfill

Full PyroCore statement

The following statement is with regard to the above mentioned planning application and the subsequent Parish Council planning meeting held on Wednesday (31st June), to outline a little more about PyroCore, our exciting technology and clarify our short-term plans for the current site. Firstly, we would like to thank the committee and residents who attended the Parish meeting wholeheartedly for their valuable time and welcomed the majority vote from the Parish Council to support PyroCore’s environmental endeavours.  PyroCore is an organisation that has the best interests of the environment at its core as we look to change the way waste is perceived and dealt with.

The focus of the company is on cleaner and more effective community-based waste to energy and waste to product solution; allowing communities to benefit from the waste that cannot be recycled and would otherwise end up in landfill. PyroCore is a North Somerset based company and are only renting a small piece of land for a temporary period. Our units are containerised and the building is totally dismantlable.

It is a common misconception, but pyrolysis is NOT incineration. It is a transformative (rather than destructive) process which de-constructs waste in the absence of oxygen breaking it down to release energy and recover by-products for recovery or potential re-use, also making it an ideal solution for the plastics that cannot be mechanically recycled. As a result, we aim to help the goal of Zero to Landfill through our process whilst at the same time greatly reducing the mileage that waste has to travel and means significant carbon savings.

We are proud that four of our units are currently being used by the Royal Navy as we also look at contributing towards the maritime environment as well. We are all very passionate about the environment we live in and strive to be the best in everything we do and to make things better. The Research & Development (R&D) site planned at St Cuthbert’s Mill is a containerised solution and so very compact.

These UK designed and built units are intended for deployment into disaster zones and isolated communities and will be on the site for a maximum of twelve months. The reason the site is an R&D unit only, is to run some tests on innovation we are working on with prominent universities in pursuit of Zero Emissions. We will be processing clean plastic from the packaging industry and typically reducing volumes of waste by 90-95%.

In terms of vehicle movements, there may be one short wheel-based HGV truck entering the site via the St Cuthbert’s Mill entrance per week and there will be no HGVs passing through LA Moore’s yard. Our emissions are insignificant from this small plant and fully compliant with UK and European legislation. The units themselves are self-contained and the chimney that is used in the process is designed to release a small amount of steam and heat, so there will be no threat of dangerous pollutants blowing across the local countryside.

 

Email dave.lewis@reachplc.com with your feedback on this story and other local news stories from across the Mendips.

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