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Environment Agency welcomes new solar farm on former landfill site

Environment Agency welcomes new solar farm on former landfill site

  • Environment Agency continues regulation for former landfill sites
  • The Environment Agency works with the City of Wolverhampton Council, site owner

The Environment Agency continues to regulate a historic, non-hazardous landfill in Wednesfield. Construction of a new solar farm can be seen currently underway.

The City of Wolverhampton Council currently operates the Bowmans Harbour landfill. The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has been given permission to develop the site in order to generate significant amounts of energy to power the New Cross Hospital. This is an important step towards reaching its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

The City of Wolverhampton Council must manage the landfill in its closed condition as part of the planning process. This includes maintaining the existing landfill monitoring infrastructure and continuing access for the Environment Agency to regulate the site.

The Environment Agency also stressed to the council the importance of avoiding damage to the landfill cap to prevent future problems.

The site was once used for coal mining, but was then turned into a landfill. It was finally closed in 1996-1997 and capped. The Environment Agency has maintained control over the site since then. It ensures that monitoring and maintenance are done in accordance to the environmental permit.

The solar farm is 11 hectares in size and can be used for 22 football pitches. It will be operational by summer, even though it is not yet fully completed. The hospital will be powered by solar energy for approximately 3 quarters of the year, which is equivalent to 288 days of self-generated energy.

Joe Craddock, Environment Officer for the Environment Agency stated:

It’s amazing to see a former landfill being used as a renewable energy source for the hospital.

We have worked with the council to improve the infrastructure of the closed dump. We have asked the City of Wolverhampton Council for a review and improvement of the gas wells and leachate on the site, as well as updates to the gas flare.*

We will continue to monitor the site and manage it as it becomes a source of renewable energy.

It is important to improve the landfill infrastructure as they reduce greenhouse gasses emitted from the site.

Background information

The solar farm is approximately 1 mile north-east from Wolverhampton city center and approximately 0.5 miles south of Wednesfield centre.

The solar farm will generate 6.9 megawatts-peak annually and will be fed directly into New Cross Hospital. New Cross Hospital will become the first hospital in England that fully utilizes and operates its own facility for renewable energy.

Bowmans Harbour’s repository is currently subject to an environmental permit that was issued to City of Wolverhampton Council in respect of environmental monitoring by the Environment Agency.

The Environment Agency regulates environmental permits that are held by landfill operators, including closed landfills. The environmental permits include conditions that regulate the site’s operations, such as emission limits and frequency of environmental monitoring.

The environmental permit conditions are intended to reduce pollution and minimize impacts on the environment and health of people and animals. The holder of an environmental permit must take appropriate measures by applying best practice.

To meet the conditions of the environmental permit, there is a long-term monitoring agreement with City of Wolverhampton Council.

Less potent greenhouse gasses are emitted if the landfill gas is burnt as opposed to being vented* so reducing the volume of gas being vented on the site will have a positive effect on the environment in terms of the greenhouse gases being emittedby the site.

  • A higher percentage of methane is released into the atmosphere when the gas is vented. This has a greater effect on the climate. The landfill gas can be burned to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases.
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