Energy from waste project checklist

This page gives information about when you need planning permission for energy from waste schemes and a project checklist of all of the practical considerations.

Planning and regulatory requirements

Planning consent is required for all energy from waste facilities. Applications for plants with capacities less than 50MWe need to be made to the local planning authority. Facilities with capacity greater than 50MWe should submit applications to the Infrastructure Planning Commission.

An environmental impact assessment (EIA) may be required depending on the size and capacity of the facility and the type of waste treated. An EIA will always be required for projects listed in Schedule 1 of the Town and Country Planning England and Wales Regulations 1999, as amended, including:

  • installations for the incineration, chemical or landfill of hazardous waste
  • installations for the incineration or chemical treatment of non-hazardous waste with a capacity exceeding 100 tonnes per day.

An EIA may be required for Schedule 2 projects, depending on the size of the site, the area of new floor space or the amount of energy being generated.

In addition to planning requirements, all energy from waste plants burning municipal waste are regulated by the Environment Agency. These plants are subject to the EU Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control regime and Waste Incineration Directive which are incorporated in the national Environmental Permitting (EP) Regulations.

An application must demonstrate that the proposed plant meets the EP regulations and a permit will only be granted if the EA is satisfied the plant will be designed, constructed and operated in a way that will not significantly pollute the environment or harm human health. Advice on the required information and procedure should be obtained from the appropriate regulator, usually the Environment Agency.

Project checklist

Waste as fuel When selecting fuel be aware that:
- different waste types have different energy content (the ‘calorific value')
- preparation levels of fuel required depend on the technology used
- fuel may qualify as a renewable resource.
Space requirements

All technologies are likely to require less space than landfill sites. Technology selection dictates the space required.

Maximum capacity

Differs for each technology. Large schemes may need to combine several units, with cost implications.

Minimum capacity

To be economically viable energy from waste needs to be of a minimum size. However, the incentives offered by the feed-in tariffs may make smaller schemes more viable. There is an important role for waste planning authorities in coordinating fuel supply chains.


Location of electricity only schemes will be influenced by suitability for fuel deliveries and electricity grid access.
Heat only systems must be located near to consumers. You will also need to consider fuel deliveries, dust, odour and emissions.
Optimal locations for CHP systems will consider both.

Fuel supply

Fuel supplies and their availability, costs and efficiencies may change. Fuel supply chains may need to be developed in order to feed a plant large enough to be economically viable.

Future proofing

Many waste facilities enter into long-term contracts which might affect the ability to change technologies in the future.

Residual waste from energy from waste

Plan how Refuse Derived Fuel (RDFs) or residues will be dealt with or used.

Visual impact

This can be an issue in sensitive landscapes and urban areas. Design of the facility and the technology chosen will have a big impact on its visual impact.


Need to account for process and fuel delivery noise and disruption, and any additional machinery when siting the plant.

Electrical grid connection

For small scale energy from waste, the "Fit and Inform" electricity grid connection regulations apply.
For large scale a specific application is required to the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) for grid connection. The site needs to be located close to a grid connection point to keep cabling costs down. (For example, an overhead line costs £20,000 - £35,000/km and over ten times more for buried cabling.)



1 May 2012

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