Heathfield has been a key site in the portfolio of Viridor’s waste treatment facilities and provided a cornerstone for the growth of the company, enabling it to become one of the leading recycling, renewable energy and resource management companies in the UK.
Ian Morrish, Director of Landfill Energy for Viridor commented: “Over the last 30 years the team at Heathfield have worked tirelessly to responsibly manage waste from the South West. The site was an important pioneer in the production of reliable renewable energy from landfill gas.
“Today marks the end of an important chapter in Viridor and for the site, and it’s fantastic to welcome members of the team past and present. However, this is not the end of the story as we will work over the coming years to continue to manage the power generation and to restore the site to blend in with the surrounding Devon countryside.
We thank our employees, customers and partners for their contributions at Heathfield over the past 35 years”.
Landfills are in sharp decline across the UK, as recycling and energy recovery technology provides more sustainable and resource efficient options for the waste materials we produce. Viridor is currently accelerating its landfill wind-down and aftercare programme, reducing its operational landfill portfolio from 18 to three strategically located sites nationwide over the next few years. Now the site has closed, Viridor will actively manage the site aftercare, ensuring that the landfill gas from the decomposing waste is harnessed in a series a gas engines and continues to generate vital renewable power.
The rest of the site will be capped and restored to a variety of land uses including woodland and heathland, creating valuable local habitats for wildlife. Viridor has worked with the Devon Wildlife Trust to ensure maximum biodiversity value. This site aftercare will continue for many years to come. The residual (non-recyclable) waste that once went to Heathfield now gets sent to the nearby Exeter Energy Recovery Facility, a facility delivered in partnership between Devon County Council and Viridor. The ERF treats 60,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste a year and has a power generating capacity of 3.5 Megawatts, enough electricity to power 5,000 homes.
To mark the occasion, Viridor invited a number of people who were involved in operating the site from its conception. Arthur Price, the original site manager, said: “It is a real milestone to see the site receive its last delivery, having developed and provided a reliable source of waste treatment for many years. Viridor has grown rapidly since my days with the company, and it is fantastic that the team, including my son Matt, today are now able to focus on restoring the site to allow nature to return and develop new habitats.”
Viridor has worked hard to ensure community benefit over the lifetime of the Heathfield site. It has worked closely with the local community via its community liaison group and has provided support for the local community during this time via direct sponsorship and partnerships, and via over £5 million being provided for local projects via the Landfill Communities Fund.
This money, a reclaimed proportion of landfill tax, is distributed via Viridor Credits, an independent, not-for-profit organisation. Viridor Credits has funded 321 projects in the Heathfield Area since 2002, delivering funding of £5m for a wide range of community, heritage and biodiversity projects large and small in the local area. Most recently, the Viridor Credits Board awarded £200,000 to the regeneration of Victoria Park in Buckfastleigh.