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Cleaning-up a Cheshire eyesore

Cheshire Land

Trail-blazing environmental project on former ICI lime beds set to get under way before the summer

PLANS to restore a blot on the Cheshire landscape by extracting and recycling hundreds of thousands of tonnes of former industrial waste are due to start before the summer, according to the company delivering the transformational project.

Cheshire Land Ltd’s proposal to remediate a series of former ICI lime beds at Lostock Gralam, near Northwich, received planning permission from Cheshire West in 2020. The trail-blazing project will remove black ash and lime from the site to provide source materials for the construction industry.

Cheshire Land’s planning director, Richard Gee, explained: ‘This is an entirely new approach to dealing with this kind of waste material that recognizes that what was once regarded as waste, now has a resource value and can be recycled with a very substantial carbon saving.

‘Cheshire West Council rightly required us to fulfil a large number of pre-commencement planning conditions to satisfy them and The Environment Agency about every aspect of the process and all the potential impacts.

‘We have been working closely with both parties, and happily, we are very nearly at the end of that process and will be submitting the final pieces of information in the very near future.’

The project envisages removing the black ash residue that came from the ICI plant’s former coal-fired power station and was used to create the bunds for the lime beds, as well as the lime itself. Black ash is used in the manufacture of clinker blocks for the building industry, whilst the lime is the core component in the manufacture of cement.

Dafydd Rees from DB Remediation, who are Cheshire Land’s main contractor and strategic partners on the project, said: ‘This is not only about clearing an environmental blot on the landscape, but also about removing and reusing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of material and embedded carbon. Mining, transporting, and processing material from scratch would generate very significant amounts of CO2, which we will be saving.

‘Furthermore, the second phase of the process, which will involve treating the lime, will embrace pioneering carbon capture technology to realize an even more substantial CO2 saving. This has got to be one of the most sustainable and green planning projects currently being delivered in Cheshire.’

The current planning permission focuses on the extraction and removal of black ash, which Cheshire Land now believe will commence early in the summer, subject to the final sign-off and approval by the Council and Environment Agency.

Richard Gee added: ‘We are also well advanced with the planning application for phase 2 of the project, which will be the extraction and processing of the lime.

‘The plans will include our vision for the future of the site on completion, which include the creation of new wetland habitats, an enriched ecology, and open parkland for public enjoyment. We will be consulting local stakeholders on those plans in the next few months.’

Although plans to date have focused on the 53 acres of land within the ownership of Cheshire Land, the company are hoping to extend the project to complete the remediation of the neighbouring 112 acres owned by Tata.

Cheshire Land managing director John Wood said: ‘We have been in close dialogue with Tata, and they are keen in principle to extend the project to complete the remediation and transformation of the whole area.

‘The key thing for us is to get started on site and begin to deal with the legacy of Northwich’s industrial past. It’s an exciting project and we’re delighted that we will soon be on site delivering it.’

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