The South West Devon Waste Partnership

The South West Devon Waste Partnership (SWDWP) is a collaboration between Plymouth City Council, Devon County Council and Torbay Council. The Partnership was formally established in 2008 under a joint working agreement approved by each of the three councils.

We first came together as a partnership in 2007 to look at the issue of waste and specifically residual waste. Residual waste is the waste that is left once all efforts to reduce and recycle have taken place.

Our aim is to secure a timely economic, reliable and proven solution to divert the Partnership’s residual waste from landfill with reduced carbon impact including Combined Heat and Power (CHP) if possible.

By working in partnership we benefit from sharing costs, knowledge and experience as well as being in a stronger position when looking at available solutions.

Why do we need to do this?

Currently, all the partnership's residual waste is being taken to landfill. However, available space is running out and it is widely accepted that environmentally, land filling is a very damaging method of waste disposal. Additionally, recent European legislation has meant that landfill has also become increasingly expensive method of waste disposal.

What has happened so far?

Preparation and consultation

As part of their Municipal Waste Management Strategies, each partner Council conducted their own thorough investigation into how waste could be managed in the future. Their appraisals included a comparison of the different methods and technologies available to manage waste, and took into account associated cost and environmental factors. All three councils individually came to a similar conclusion that a thermal process, recovering energy from waste, alongside increased recycling and waste minimisation, was the best option available.

When considering whether to work together to find a new solution for our residual waste, the three councils undertook a further options appraisal, and reached a similar conclusion that recovering energy from waste was likely to be the best solution. As a partnership, we approached the waste industry open to any waste treatment solution, although with a requirement that a thermal process should be included as part of any proposal.

Procurement process

The procurement process began in 2008 with the partnership inviting specialist waste companies to propose their solutions to manage our residual waste. This process involved a number of stages where submissions were made and assessed against set criteria. The assessment considered many aspects of the contractor's proposals against the following themes:

  • technical
  • environmental
  • planning and site deliverability
  • legal and financial aspects

Initially, four different locations were put forward as possible sites for a new waste treatment plant and a number of contractors submitted more than one proposal. The submissions were appraised and short listed over a number of tendering stages resulting in the final two companies each proposing a similar energy from waste technology but on different sites. MVV Umwelt put forward plans for North Yard, Devonport while Viridor chose New England Quarry near Lee Mill.

The evaluation procedure used for the final stage of the procurement process, the Call for Final Tenders assessment, can be viewed below.

After a rigorous assessment of both proposals, MVV Umwelt was announced as the Partnership's preferred bidder in January 2011 and following approvals from each of the partner councils and Defra, contracts were signed in March 2011.

The MVV proposal is for a 245,000 tonne capacity energy from waste facility located in North Yard providing environmentally sustainable electricity and heat to HM Naval Base Devonport.

Public communication

The Partnership has always been keen to make sure the public have been aware of the process and any decisions made whilst recognising the need to keep some commercial information confidential. Over the last five years we have held exhibitions, answered letters and emails, produced leaflets, issued press releases, maintained a website and have regularly briefed MPs and Councillors representing the local communities. More information can be found on our news and events pages.

Planning permission and environmental permitting

MVV submitted its planning application to Plymouth City Council’s planning department in May 2011. This application was approved in December 2011 and subject to fulfilling certain conditions allows MVV to begin construction on site.

The company also applied for an environmental permit to operate the proposed facility from the Environment Agency which was granted in March 2012.

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Work started onsite at the end of March 2012

MVV have set up a webcam showing the area where the main facility is being built. The picture is refreshed every 30 minutes. View the webcam on MVV's website.

Contact the Partnership

South West Devon Waste Partnership
Civic Centre
Plymouth, PL1 2AA

Tel: 01752 304953

Plymouth City Council

Devon County Council

Torbay Council

MVV logo