Runcorn ERF Extension

Background

Viridor had been operating the Runcorn ERF from 2015, converting between 850,000 – 890,000 tonnes non-recyclable waste into energy and heat each year.

However, since becoming operational, the business has steadily improved the performance of the ERF, allowing it to process more waste than the existing planning approval permitted.  As such, a new planning application was required to revise a condition of the original planning consent that set a limit about the amount of waste that could be delivered to the ERF by road.

How we assisted

BECG developed a full political, stakeholder and community engagement strategy that sought to explain the rationale for the application without causing undue concern.

During the original planning application which granted permission for development of the ERF there had been a well-organised and concerted campaign to stop the facility being built, including legal challenges.

BECG was tasked with ensuring that local community concern did not damage Viridor’s reputation or delay decision-making to the technical changes that were required to the existing planning permission.

Our working included:

  • Targeted engagement with relevant councillors and regulators to explain the rationale for the new application, the benefits and how potential impacts would be managed
  • Updates to the ERF’s existing webpage to provide explanation and reassurance to local residents
  • A community newsletter explaining the proposals and offering channels for the local community to engage with the project team
  • Protocols and procedures developed to manage potential protests and concerted objector campaigns

Outcome

The communications strategy was successful in ensuring that local community concern about the proposals was minimal, which helped to provide reassurance to Halton Borough Council that a successful planning approval wouldn’t become a political headache.

Halton Borough Council’s Development Control Committee unanimously granted approval for the amendments in February 2019.