Great Blakenham: Energy-from-waste incinerator plant ‘on track to become one of greenest buildings in country’

An artist's impression of what the Ipswich SITA plant will look like

An artist's impression of what the Ipswich SITA plant will look like - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s energy-from-waste facility looks set to become one of the greenest buildings in the county.

Although only half built, the incinerator plant at Great Blakenham, on the outskirts of Ipswich, is on track to achieve an ‘excellent’ green rating under an international scheme which recognises good environmental practice.

Under the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) scheme, an internationally-used system for assessing buildings, points are awarded for every positive environmental feature incorporated into the design, construction and management of a building.

Work started on the Great Blakenham plant, a joint initiative between Suffolk County Council and waste management company SITA UK, in January last year.

Once completed at the end of next year, it will burn household and business waste, which would otherwise go to landfill, and enough generate electricity for 30,000 homes.

Richard Smith, Cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning with Suffolk County Council, said: “We want Suffolk to be the greenest county and lead the way in cutting carbon emissions. This building will help us achieve that – greenhouse gasses will be reduced by around 75,000 tonnes a year, compared with landfill.

“ It will provide us with a cheaper, greener solution to disposing of the waste left after recycling, and over the next 25 years will be at least £350 million cheaper than continuing to landfill.”

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One of the features which have helped the Suffolk energy-from-waste facility score so highly include the use of sustainably-sourced and re-used materials. Most of the former highways buildings, which once stood on the site, were re-used in the foundations for the new building

It will also be a low user of energy and water. Natural daylight will be used as much as possible in the new building and once operational rain water will be collected and re-used.

Bike stands and changing facilities will be provided to encourage staff to cycle to work and there will be an extensive landscaped area at the front of the site, planted with native species to attract a wide range of animals

Cliff Matthews, Regional Manager for Energy from Waste with SITA UK, said: “Our expectations for this building are very high. It is not enough for it to just fulfil its purpose of turning rubbish into electricity, we also want it to be the best in terms of design, technology and environmental management.”

The building site has already been recognised as one of the best-run in the country under the Considerate Contractors’ Scheme. The main contractors, CNIM/Lagan, signed up to the scheme, which aims to improve standards on building sites, as soon as work started in January 2012. In their latest report, inspectors described the site as ‘exceptional’ in four out of five categories: protecting the environment, safety, caring of the workforce and respecting the community.

And now it is just four points away from the ‘excellent’ BREEAM rating – having already passed the ‘good’ level.