Planning and Permitting

Planning and Permitting


In 2013, the project received approval under the UK’s Development Consent Order procedures for the delivery of nationally important infrastructure. The planning approvals process involved a comprehensive and wide-ranging requirement to consult local people and businesses, councils, environmental groups and statutory bodies about the proposal, providing just as much opportunity (if not more) than with a normal planning application. In addition, a full Health Impact Assessment was performed.

Click here to read the consultation report as well as its appendices here. The Joint Committee report on the facility can be found here and the Order granting development consent for the facility can be found by clicking here (under the 21 February 2019 statement).

The UK’s Planning Inspectorate (formerly the Infrastructure Planning Commission until April 2012) website housed all Development Consent Order (DCO) documents for the Rookery South Energy Recovery Facility. If you are interested in viewing any of these documents, you can do this by request via the Contact Us form here.

Did You Know?

It has often been incorrectly stated that there will be 600 HGVs entering and leaving the ERF each day - the true figure is much lower. The facility supplies monthly records of HGV movements to the Council which demonstrates actual figures are c. 120 HGVs delivering waste each day and another 30 HGVs removing ash for recycling and/or secure disposal. That’s approximately 300 HGVs movements per day.

Site Selection

The Rookery South Pit site, located within the Northern Marston Vale Growth area, was chosen after an extensive search in this region. Covanta originally looked at over 300 sites and Rookery Pit South was considered the most suitable.

The site was identified as the most appropriate location to develop the project because:

  1. it avoids those areas most protected by policy, such as the Greenbelt.
  2. it is accessible by major road networks (M1/A421) and offers the potential for rail transport in the future.
  3. it is sufficiently remote to avoid adverse local environmental impacts.
  4. it is strategically located in relation to waste management and power system requirements.

Facility Design

The Rookery South Pit site is 95 hectares, and the ERF occupies only approximately 5 hectares of the total area. Covanta considered a range of design options through studying a building code established in conjunction with the Commission for the Built Environment (now called the Design Council), English Heritage, Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough Councils.

Facility Rendering


In January 2018, the Environment Agency (EA) issued an Environmental Permit for the Rookery South ERF. Issuance of the permit followed a detailed review and consultation process by the Environment Agency. For more information, download the EA's fact sheet or visit the EA's webpage to view the permit and decision document.