25 Januar 2013

Environment Agency publish new standard permit for anaerobic digestion plants

New streamlined environmental permitting regulations for anaerobic digestion plants could be 'timely boost' for industry

There are currently 95 anaerobic digestion plants in the UK processing food and farm waste and this number is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years as developers take advantage of the Government incentives available for biogas combustion and biomethane injection into the UK gas grid.

A standard environmental permit is required by most UK anaerobic digestion plant operations. Although, smaller digesters with a net thermal capacity below 0.4MW are exempt from requiring an environmental permit and larger sites (processing more than 100 tonnes of waste a day) require a bespoke permit.

The new Standard Permit rules will enable anaerobic digester operators to carry out anaerobic digestion of wastes and also combust the resultant biogas in gas engines. The rules also allow the use of gas turbines, boilers, fuel cells and treatment and/or upgrading the biogas to biomethane. Permitted wastes include those controlled by the Animal-By-Products Regulations but do not include hazardous wastes.

Lucy Hopwood, Head of Biomass and Biogas at NNFCC, said: “Gaining an environmental permit for a new anaerobic digestion plant remains a challenge to many large scale developers,”

“Combined with the existing exemptions for small-scale digesters, these new regulations will help streamline the process of gaining an environmental permit for all but the very largest anaerobic digestion plants and this could be a major and timely boost for the industry,” she added.

Operators can apply for a standard permit for anaerobic digestion facility waste recovery operation if they comply with the standard rules and meet the following criteria:

  • The quantity of waste that can be accepted onto the site is no more than 100 tonnes per day
  • The storage, physical treatment and composting of wastes must be at least 200 metres away from the nearest sensitive receptor (typically a dwelling or workplace).

Standard Rule Permit SR2012 No10 ‘On-farm anaerobic digestion facility using farm wastes only, including use of the resultant biogas’ replaces previous legislation SR2010 No16. While SR2012 No12 ‘Anaerobic digestion facility including use of the resultant biogas’ replaces SR2010 No15.

For more information on environmental permitting for anaerobic digestion visit The Official Information Portal on Anaerobic Digestion, run by NNFCC on behalf of the entire UK AD Community: www.biogas-info.co.uk/index.php/regulations-qa.html.

Source: NNFCC, 2013-01-25.


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