THE Duke of Kent has officially opened a new facility which will turn our rubbish into energy.
The Queen’s cousin gave the royal thumbs up to the Energy from Waste facility set up by SITA UK to deal with rubbish from Sunderland, South Shields and Gateshead.
The company was awarded the £727million contract after the three councils got together to decide on a better way to deal with our waste.
Councillor Peter Mole MBE, chairman of the South Tyne and Wear Waste Management Partnership’s Joint Executive Committee, said: “Thanks to these new facilities, we are proud to be able to say that we now divert over 95 per cent of our waste away from landfill and, instead, put it to good use – either by recycling it into new products and compost or treating it to produce electricity.
“In fact, even the ash that comes from burning the waste is recycled into building materials.”
When it was first mooted, the Energy from Waste plan was met with opposition from Tory and independent councillors.
Some were in favour of an alternative recycling system and use of a steam-cleaning treatment known as autoclaving.
Some residents were also concerned about the heavy waste vehicles passing through their neighbourhood.
Objectors also bemoaned the decision to drive our waste down to Teesside, questioning its cost-effectiveness and environmental impact.
But the three councils voted through the plans and construction of the new plant in Billingham, Teesside, began in September 2011.
It was completed in April 2014. More than 1,800 skilled professionals were employed during the building period, with a further 42 full-time, permanent jobs created to operate the facility.
A further 24 jobs have been created in the operation of three new waste transfer stations developed at Wrekenton in Gateshead, Middlefields in South Tyneside and Hendon in Sunderland.
These allow the waste to be sorted for recycling before loading the residual waste into larger vehicles for transport to Teesside.
David Palmer-Jones, Chief Executive Officer for SITA UK, said: “The South Tyne and Wear Waste Management Partnership’s investment in this new infrastructure shows how local authorities can meet their commitments to divert waste material from landfill and, at the same time, deliver a sustainable source of energy. SITA UK is delighted to play a part in helping the North East put its waste to good use.”
“On behalf of SITA UK and the South Tyne & Wear Waste Management Partnership, I am delighted and honoured to welcome His Royal Highness to formally open our new energy from waste facility.”