Visit to Amey Cespa; 14:00 hrs Saturday 3 Feb 18

General Impression of Site

By contrast with my last visit, when it was managed by Dunarbon, the site had an air of untidiness, and gave the impression of inadequate “housekeeping”. There was much litter in the ditches, including that close to reception. There was material – largely plastic – that was awaiting landfill spilling out of storage bays; which had their doors open. There was little activity outside the buildings; albeit it was a Saturday. There was little noticeable odour; but see below. Photography was not permitted.

Tour of Site

We were driven past the storage bays mentioned above, and shown the landfill site, its gas lines leading to a generating plant (some 1.5MW), the composting area, stored compost, and the site of the proposed Energy from Waste plant. We did not enter any of the buildings, other than reception. We remained upwind of the composting windrows (see below).

Odour; The Composting Operation

It was acknowledged that the source of odour that continues to cause nuisance to surrounding villages is the composting of food and garden waste; the putrescibles. This process has three stages, the first two of which are now in enclosed bins with capture and treatment of gases. The third stage however is still carried out in the open, and involves heaping the material into rows (“windrows”), leaving it to mature, and turning it periodically. The turning of the material results in the most intense release of odour.

If the company responds to reported nuisance, it suspends the turning operation; to be resumed we can surmise normally when the wind changes and a different village will be subjected to the odour. It is claimed that complaints have reduced by a third from 2016 to 2017. It would be possible, at a price, to eliminate the odour by enclosing the maturing operation, and drawing off the gases to be treated in the same way as for the sorting shed and the first stages of composting. The company however does not intend to do so, or to take any new action to improve its control of this odour. The operations staff seem to do the best they can with the situation they have, but it seems clear that the company takes the view that new developments would need to take account of the waste site, not the other way round.

Site of Proposed Energy from Waste Plant

The site is an adjacent field. The design of the proposed building rises in stages from the road, to a height of 40 metres, with a stack of 80 metres. The operations manager hopes to be able to feed it with a covered conveyor belt from the sorting shed.

John Buckley

4 Feb 2018


The village of Landbeach lies to the north of Cambridge, between the city and the fens.


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