Parish councillors wave through another DHL incinerator application

Parish councillors have raised no objections to a further proposal by DHL to build an incinerator at the former Heathrow Cold Store at Colnbrook Lakeside. 

DHLs new incinerator will site adjacent to its big brother, the Grundon super-incinerator, the largest in the country.

DHLs new incinerator will site adjacent to its big brother, the Grundon super-incinerator, the largest in the country.

Parish councillors have again waved through an application from DHL relating to a new incineration plant to be built at Colnbrook Lakeside.  The logistics company’s application under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 for a permit application for a small waste co-incineration plant was discussed at the meeting of the Services Committee held at the Village Hall, Colnbrook on Tuesday 19th July 2016 and went unchallenged.

DHL submitted outstanding details in June relating to external surfaces, odour management, and external lighting associated with the new biomass facility to be built at its Flight Assembly Centre on Lakeside Road, Colnbrook.  The details (P/16241/001) relate to conditions set by Slough Borough Council a year ago when it approved the plant, which went almost unnoticed by residents at the time – in contrast to the concerns voiced by residents when the company last proposed building an energy from waste facility.

In 2013 DHL had proposed building a new waste processing plant and energy from waste facility.  Its proposed biomass combustion unit was set to burn around 550 tonnes of food waste annually, running 365 days a year.  Parish councillors said they had no objections to the proposal in September 2013, insisting “it would have to meet the air quality standards required by law and would be fully monitored” and the new incinerator was approved by Slough Borough Council in July 2014.

However the plant was never built, following a review of operations by the company.


While in 2013 the company referred specifically to a waste processing and energy from waste facility, its revised application, for “a biomass boiler and associated chimney stack”, appeared far less contentious –  keeping the proposal well below the radar.  Parish councillors first discussed it in last June and agreed to hold a site visit before discussing the matter again in July.  There were no subsequent public discussions by councillors and planning officers at Slough Borough Council rubber stamped the new proposal in August 2015 without it going to Committee.

The need for a separate waste processing facility was, the company said, to provide additional storage and operational space which the company says it no longer needs.  However, there is little other material difference between the new and old applications, despite the name change.

The site currently generates 1,600 tonnes of Category 1 waste (catering waste from international transport) and Category 3 waste (catering) after removing recyclable materials which is shipped off site.  The company intends to handle these materials together in the future, dehydrating them to create 600 tonnes of dry fuel to be fed into the new boiler.  As a result of the proposed drying process DHL hopes to reduce the overall amount of waste by about 1,100 tonnes through water that is evaporated, condensed, and discharged to the sewer.

DHL says the treatment and burning of this waste will take 100 vehicle movements off the roads per annum and reduce CO2 emissions.  There will be emissions from the plant, but the company says they will be “within tolerance”.  Nevertheless the new incinerator will be located in an area already suffering with pollution well above WHO recommended safe levels.

In 2013 the company pointed to testing by the boiler manufacturers that suggested the system would meet the emissions criteria for regulatory approval, while admitting that one of its tests – completed without “an additional ceramic exhaust gas filter” – was unsatisfactory.

No objections were raised by any councillor present.

In March last year DHL shrugged off the threat from Heathrow Hub to move forward with plans to build its new UK headquarters in Poyle, creating over 700 jobs.  The new building was originally due to be operational by April this year.

Cllrs Bryant and Smith left the room during the course of discussions.  Chair Cllr Scott Bryant is an employee of DHL while Cllr Smith sits on the Planning Committee. Cllrs Elum-Smith (also an employee of DHL) and Brooks were absent from the meeting.


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