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Environment

Biomass

Biomass boilers derive energy from a range of materials including animal or plant sources and some of these materials may be regarded as waste. There is growing interest in the use of biomass as a renewable low carbon fuel, however biomass boilers can have an adverse effect on air quality.

Biomass burning boilers can emit a number of pollutants including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particles (PM) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). The mix and amounts of pollution produced will depend on the size and design of the boiler, the quality of the fuel used and the presence of any emissions abatement (cleaning) equipment.

Regulation of Biomass Boilers

Biomass boilers are regulated in a variety of ways depending on their size, location and fuel type. The regulatory system is complex with many areas of overlapping legislation and additional information is needed for the Council to make an appropriate assessment. To enable the Council to determine which regulatory regimes apply to a biomass boiler please complete the Biomass Boiler Information Request Form (Word 422Kb)  Please note this form should be submitted with all planning applications for biomass installations. 

The table below summarises the regulatory regimes:

Fuel Scenario

Plant size

Pollution regulation applicable

Regulator

Biomass fuel arising

from natural sources

< 20 MWth

20-50 MWth

> 50 MWth

Clean Air Act

LA-PPC

IPPC

Local Authority

Local Authority Environment Agency

Waste or waste

derived biomass, exempt from WID

< 0.4 -3 MWth and < 50 kg/hr

0.4 - 3 MWth and 50 - 1000 kg/hr

> 3 MWth and >1000 kg/hr

> 50 MWth

Clean Air Act

LA-PPC

IPPC

IPPC

Local Authority

Local Authority

Environment Agency

Environment Agency

Waste or waste

derived biomass

to which WID applies

< 3 MWth

> 3 MWth

WID, LA-IPPC

WID, IPPC

Local Authority

Environment Agency

MW = megawatt, thermal.
LA-PPC = Local Authority Pollution Prevention and Control.
IPPC = Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (Environment Agency).
WID = Waste Incineration Directive (Local Authority and Environment Agency)

Biomass Boilers in smoke control areas

Several areas of the Borough have been designated as smoke control areas. Therefore any boiler being installed in a smoke control area must be an exempt appliance under the Clean Air Act 1993 or burning an authorised fuel. Further information on our smoke control areas, exempt appliances and authorised fuels can be found on the Smoke Controls Areas page.

Chimney height approval for Biomass Boilers

The Council is required to approve the height of a chimney, stack or flue, serving any biomass boiler capable of burning pulverised fuel and solid fuel at 45.4 kg/h or more, or liquid and gas fuels at 366.4  kW or more. Further information on chimney heights can be found on the Smoke Controls and Air Pollution page.

Biomass Guidance

If you are planning to install a biomass boiler guidance can be found in the Biomass and Air Quality Information for Developers document produced by Environmental Protection UK.

Further information on biomass boilers, fuels, approvals, consents and assessing and mitigating the potential impacts of biomass can be found in the Biomass and Air Quality Guidance for Local Authorities document produced by Environmental Protection UK.

Biomass and Planning

Please complete the Biomass Boiler Information Request Form (Word 422Kb)  for submission with planning applications for biomass installations. 

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