A NEW power station could be built to burn rubbish from seven North-East councils to generate electricity and heating to nearby homes.

The proposed £2.1bn scheme on the former Redcar steelworks site has been put forward by the local authorities for Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton, County Durham and Newcastle.

If approved, it would create capacity to dispose of rubbish from 1.5m residents, using 450,000 tonnes of waste a year being used to generate electricity, and potentially heating nearby homes and businesses.

A spokesperson for the project said: “While we would obviously urge everyone to recycle as much as possible, we appreciate that not all rubbish can be repurposed.

“We know that the volume of non-recyclable material we have to deal with is only likely to increase as our population and household numbers grow.  

“The Government is also expected to widen the definition of municipal waste to include similar commercial and industrial leftovers.

“By joining forces the seven councils can create a new facility using the latest technology, reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfill, which is better for the environment.

“The commercial opportunity this proposed plant also presents could mean that we can generate significant income, thereby offsetting costs for the taxpayer.”

The proposed Tees Valley energy recovery facility would be built on a 25 acre brown-field site, currently owned by the South Tees Development Corporation.

Tees Valley Mayor and Chair of South Tees Development Corporation Ben Houchen said: “Since I secured the landmark deal to take ownership of the former SSI steelworks, we’ve wasted no time in getting to work with clearing land, carrying out demolition works and putting in planning applications to develop hundreds of acres of land.

“To be home to this energy recovery centre, which will serve the whole of the North East, right here on Teesside, is another huge project that forms part of our ambition to become the UK’s first zero-carbon industrial cluster.

“This investment will hugely benefit the people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool with good quality, well paid local jobs.

“Workers are already on site preparing the land for this important investment, and more local jobs for local workers will be created during the construction phase and once the facility becomes operational.”

By 2025, it is estimated that the five Tees Valley councils will collectively generate around 200,000 tonnes of that – a figure only likely to increase as a result of housing and population growth.

A further 200,000 tonnes could come from the two larger council areas to the north, with any spare capacity offered for commercial waste disposal, which would generate income.

With the project representing a capital investment of up to £300 million, and the total value of the contract being £2.1 billion over an initial contract of 29 years, and a possible 11 year extension, the councils have begun a Europe wide search for a contractor to build and run the new facility.

It is hoped to have that partner in place by December 2021, with the construction phase creating more than 300 jobs.

Once up and running, by 1 April 2026, it would then create a further 40 permanent positions.

Details of the procurement notice, number 350833-2020, can be found on the Official Journal of the European Union website at https://ted.europa.eu.