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. Now through the partnership with Veolia, the project is moving forward and will provide a much needed local waste management solution.

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).

In February 2019, the Court of Appeal granted permission for a hearing in the project’s permit. Covanta’s statement on this process can be viewed here.

The UK’s Planning Inspectorate (formally 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 most recent forecast shows that approximately 100 HGVs will deliver waste each day and another 25 will take ash away for recycling and/or secure disposal. That’s approximately 250 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 340 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 e.g. Greenbelt.
  2. it is accessible by a suitable road network (the A421) and offers the potential for rail transport in the future.
  3. it is capable of providing enough space to avoid adverse local environmental impacts.
  4. it is centrally located enabling the required waste management and energy supply capacity to be provided in a strategically advantageous position.

Facility Design

The Rookery South Pit site is 95 hectares, and the ERF will occupy approximately 10 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

The ERF location and orientation is designed to keep the visual impact on the surrounding area to a minimum and to also reduce potential noise. The building design of 'interlocking boxes' was selected as it allows the height of the building to be reduced and addresses the dominance of the roof profile in medium and long-distance views. The height of the ERF is also at the lower end of the range when compared with other UK EfW plants.


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.

Later in 2018 a Judicial Review was carried out and, following a detailed two-day Hearing, a High Court judge decided to uphold the granting of the Environment Permit to the Rookery South project.