Thursday, October 13, 2016

News: Magna's waste worries over new neighbours

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Bosses at the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham have raised objections to the new renewable energy centre set to be built next door - mainly due to the problems with Sterecycle, the previous operators of the site.

Rolton Kilbride is leading on the £160m project that would convert 215,000 tonnes of waste a year into energy using new forms of gasification technology.

Not an incinerator or an autoclaving plant like Sterecycle, the new development would use an Advanced Conversion Technology "gasification" process that heats the residual waste to very high temperatures, causing the materials to break down whilst also generating a gas, which when burnt off in a boiler, creates energy.

At the recent meeting of the planning board at Rotherham Council, Stuart Ballard, education manager and John Silker, CEO at Magna, discussed the impact on the tourism and events business at the Rotherham venue when the site was used by Sterecycle - most notably the problems with odours that put off visitors, the lack of enforcement by the Environment Agency and the fire which caused Magna to cancel Christmas parties, putting the charity out of pocket.

Silker also discussed how future potential investors at the site could be put off by another waste facility operating in close proximity.

Having been at risk of closure, the venue has restructured its loans from Rotherham Council. A business plan for the period 2015-2020 includes the strategy to maintain and build on the existing business model, as a visitor attraction and conferencing and events venue. The operators say that they have several projects in the pipeline and have been talking to hotel developers about possible development on the site.

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The CEO told the meeting: "Magna as a visitor attraction has suffered over a number of years but we've moved forward. I'm in discussions with UKTI over investors who have between £75m and £100m to invest into a convention centre and hotel, benefiting the history of our site so that it will be here for the future.

"We lose roughly a million a year of conferences that move out of South Yorkshire due to lack of hotel capacity. We build a hotel on site, and if we get that planning permission, that would be 500 bedrooms that would generate £10m per year in revenue to this area. It would then create 250 jobs initially for Magna which would then grow to 500 jobs permanently. In my opinion, if we are going to invest, we should invest into Magna and I object strongly to this [proposal].

"If we are trying to bring large companies, nationally and internationally, they would not come to this area - they may come once - if you have an issue over smell and any issue like we did have previously. We're objecting becasue of the impact it could have on the investment and jobs."

The planning board heard how Sterecycle used an old existing industrial building as the first of its kind site to "autoclave" waste. The technology was prone to breaking down, causing delivered waste to be stored on site for long periods. Eventually, Sterecycle (Rotherham) Limited was found guilty of corporate manslaughter following the fatality at the site in 2011. The firm vacated the premises in October 2012 and associated companies were placed in liquidation in June 2013.

In contrast, the applicants explained how the proposals include demolishing the existing building and constructing a purpose built facility to the very latest technical specifications. For example, waste delivered to the site will head straight indoors and the flue stack will be some 100m high.

The planning board voted eight to one to approve the application which includes conditions relating to limiting the amount of waste delivered to 215,000 tonnes per annum, the hours of deliveries, drainage and flooding, and carrying out an odour impact assessment.

Applicants believe that the facility will take roughly 24 months to construct, with an additional six months commissioning and testing at the end of that period.

Magna website

Images: Rolton Kilbride


3 comments:

Mr me October 13, 2016 at 3:06 PM  

500 rooms!That's some size hotel,surely that size would scupper any plans for town centre hotels.

Anonymous,  October 14, 2016 at 7:35 PM  

I don't for one minute believe that figure, we must be one the largest towns in the whole country without a hotel in its centre, never mind 500 rooms in one go !

Mr me October 16, 2016 at 3:09 AM  

Were largest town without plenty of things.Even Barnsley as a large town centre Premiere hotel about 8 floors,ive said many times,Rotherham is light years behind everywhere!

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