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Portland Energy Recovery Facility – Planning Application submitted for UK’s First Net-Zero Carbon Facility
Portland Energy Recovery Facility – Planning Application submitted for UK’s First Net-Zero Carbon Facility

Terence O’Rourke has submitted a detailed planning application for the construction and operation of an energy recovery facility (ERF) on previously developed land at Portland Port, on behalf of Powerfuel Portland Ltd. The ERF will be capable of managing up to 202,000 tonnes per annum of refuse derived fuel (RDF) with 15.2 MW of energy available for export. The application will now be considered by Dorset Council and if permitted will deliver a range of local, regional and national benefits including the sustainable management of residual waste, the generation of low carbon energy and new investment in the economy.


Dorset lacks infrastructure capacity to manage its residual waste, left over after all of the recyclable materials have been removed. Residual waste is currently exported out of the county to facilities elsewhere in the UK and Europe. The Portland ERF will enable this waste to be managed within Dorset, enabling it to become more self-sufficient, reducing the export of waste in line with the proximity principle, and reducing landfill in accordance with the waste hierarchy.


The ERF’s location at Portland Port will enable it to provide shore power to visiting cruise liners and stationed Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships. This will allow shipping to turn off its diesel engines when in port, reducing emissions of carbon and improving air quality. The ERF will be equipped to provide combined heat and power (CHP) and be capable of supplying heat to a local heat network when developed. Significant heat customers have been identified in close proximity, including the Ministry of Justice that operates the HMP Verne and Young Offenders Institute. The ERF is considered to be the first facility of its type in the UK to be carbon neutral by off-setting the process carbon emissions for the lifetime of the plant.


In addition to contributing towards national and local waste management and renewable energy, the ERF will deliver around £100m of investment, approximately 300 construction jobs and 30-35 operational jobs, and provides a commitment to local training and apprenticeships, all which will be of considerable benefit to the local Portland economy.

The provision of shore power will help to safeguard the port’s cruise liner activity, which is an important contributor to local tourism. Importantly, the ERF will deliver a more cost effective solution to meeting Dorset’s waste management needs and energy supply.


Terence O’Rourke’s design team has worked closely with Dorset Council landscape officers to carefully design the ERF so that it blends into its surroundings and minimises potential impact on the wider heritage coast, and its planning and environment team have worked with the wider project team to ensure that the environmental effects of the ERF are minimised and benefits are maximised.


If consented, construction of the ERF is expected to start as soon as possible in 2022.