Frequently Asked Questions
What is being proposed?
The proposed replacement facility will be used to receive food, garden and bulky waste items that are currently delivered from household kerbside collections and the Household Recycling Centres (HRCs) in the south of the county. These materials are bulked and transferred to treatment plants where they are either recycled or used to generate electricity.
The acceptance and transfer of these materials has been occurring at the High Heavens Waste Complex for many years now and most of the existing transfer operations currently take place on outdoor hardstanding areas. The proposed transfer facility will mean these activities can be moved into an enclosed purpose-built building, with suitable measures for minimising the release of emissions into the environment.
The bulking and transfer of waste materials reduces the number of vehicles transporting waste around the county, and reduces the transport costs of the county’s waste infrastructure. The proposed facility will help ensure that the movement of waste materials produced by residents continues to occur in the most efficient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way. The management of food and garden waste also contributes significantly to making Buckinghamshire one of the top recycling areas in England.
Why do we need another waste transfer station when this is already a relatively new one at High Heavens?
The proposed facility is different from the other waste transfer station at the High Heavens Complex, which accepts only residual or “black bag” waste for transfer to Buckinghamshire’s Energy from Waste (EfW) facility at Greatmoor. The EfW transfer station at High Heavens does not have any spare capacity or the design features necessary for the acceptance of food and garden waste. As previously indicated, the proposed facility will replace the existing infrastructure that is currently used for the transfer of food, garden and bulky waste at the Complex. (The layout of existing operations and the proposed facility at the High Heavens Complex is shown in the image below).
Why is a new waste transfer station needed?
The current infrastructure for transferring food, garden and bulky waste is not fit for purpose and is unlikely to be able to manage future waste growth. The county needs suitable long-term infrastructure for waste recycling and recovery.
The replacement facility will help provide a healthier and safer environment for site staff and visitors, and will allow for a one-way traffic system within the site, reducing the risk of accidents.
Modernising now will also ensure that the Council continues to comply with current and emerging legislation.
Where do the food, garden and bulky waste materials come from?
Food waste: Currently, about 10,000 tonnes of food waste is generated each year by households in the south of the county. All the food waste collected directly from households in Chiltern, Wycombe and South Bucks is taken in District Council refuse collection vehicles to the High Heavens site.
Garden waste: About 35,000 tonnes of garden waste is collected each year from the kerbside in the Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe District Council areas. This waste is sent to the High Heavens facility for bulking and transfer to composting facilities. Additionally, garden waste collected from the seven Household Recycling Centres (HRCs) in the south of the County is sent to the High Heavens site for bulking and transfer.
Bulky waste: All ten HRCs in Buckinghamshire deliver bulky waste (waste that is too big to fit into a regular wheeled bin) such as sofas and mattresses, to High Heavens. Currently, about 22,000 tonnes of bulky waste is generated by Buckinghamshire residents.
What happens to the materials when they leave the Waste Transfer Station?
Food waste: The food waste is bulked onto larger vehicles, and then transported to an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility, where it is converted into clean renewable energy. The AD process also produces an organic fertiliser called digestate, which can be spread on farmland.
Garden waste: Garden waste such as leaves and branches is loaded and transferred in larger vehicles to a number of treatment sites where it is turned into quality compost.
Bulky waste: Sofas, mattresses and other bulky items are shredded and transported to the Greatmoor EfW facility.
For the avoidance of doubt, apart from waste acceptance, shredding and transfer, no actual waste treatment currently occurs at the High Heavens site.
What difference will the proposed facility make?
The proposed facility will provide a safer working environment and will have modern ventilation and drainage systems to minimise any nuisance from odour, vermin and leachate formation. It will also help us to comply with existing and emerging waste management legislation.
How will the proposed development protect the environment and human health?
All activities will take place inside the proposed facility, which will have modern ventilation and drainage systems. The mechanical ventilation system will draw air through the building, where it will pass through a filter before being released to the atmosphere. Automatic roller shutter doors will only open to allow a vehicle to enter or exit the facility.
Food waste will be handled in a specially designed segregated area and vehicles will have to pass through a wheel wash before they exit.
Appropriate measures would be put in place to ensure that sensitive wildlife is not adversely impacted during construction or operation of the facility.
What will the traffic impacts be?
Since there will be no new activities taking place at the proposed facility, traffic impacts are not expected to change significantly in the short term. A small natural increase is expected over the next 20 years to take into account population and waste growth.
During construction there would be a small amount of additional traffic associated with the building works.
What measures will be put in place to minimise traffic nuisance?
Apart from District Council delivery vehicles, non-essential site traffic associated with the proposed facility will be spread throughout the day, and especially make use of off-peak hours to minimise traffic congestion on local roads. All waste vehicles will be suitably covered or sheeted to minimise incidents of wind-blown litter. On-site wheel washes will be used to ensure vehicle do not carry waste/litter onto roads.
Wherever practicable, haulage fleet will be required to have the most up-to-date emissions control standards (e.g. EURO 5 or equivalent as minimum) to minimise release of harmful particulates and emissions. All drivers associated with the services will be inducted on site rules and will need to observe safe and considerate driving behaviour on site and local roads.
What is the timeline for the planning process?
We anticipate that the Planning Committee will make its determination in spring 2018. If awarded planning permission, the construction would begin in 2018, with commissioning taking place 9-12 months after the start of the building works. The new facility would be full operational 1-2 months after commissioning.
Will the biowaste transfer station be noisy?
No. It will be less noisy than the current operations as it will be enclosed.
Will the proposed facility cause more odour problems?
The proposed facility will have suitable design features to control the release of odours to the atmosphere. Therefore, if anything, it should result in an improvement as far as odour generation is concerned. Please note that the former on-site composting plant was closed in October 2013 and we have not received any significant odour complaints from members of the public since then. No actual processing of food or garden waste will be undertaken on site in the proposed facility.
Will it affect other parts of the High Heavens Waste Complex?
No. Other than construction traffic, there should be no additional impact on the rest of the Complex. The modern weighbridge and one way traffic system may even reduce waiting times for vehicles. Other facilities located on the complex, including the HRC and the EfW waste transfer station, are expected to continue to open as normal during the construction and operation of the proposed facility.
Who are Galliford Try and RPS?
Buckinghamshire County Council, which is the Waste Disposal Authority for Buckinghamshire, has appointed Galliford Try as the design and build contractor for the replacement transfer station. Galliford Try is one of the UK’s leading construction companies, with a strong focus on innovation and excellence in sustainable building. RPS is the planning consultancy appointed by Galliford Try to provide support with the planning application for the facility.