LAW firm Ward Hadaway has advised on the development of a major anaerobic digestion scheme which is set to make a major contribution to renewable energy production in the North East.
Lawyers from across the firm advised Emerald Biogas on its anaerobic digestion (AD) facility currently being built at a site at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham.
Once it is operational, the facility will be able to produce 1.4MW of electricity from food and farm waste in its first phase.
Ward Hadaway, which has offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, has advised Emerald Biogas on the project for over two years.
Experts from the UK Top 100 firm’s specialist energy, banking and finance, property, planning, construction and corporate finance teams were all involved in advising on the project, from the initial planning stages through finance and contracts to the current construction of the plant.
Ward Hadaway’s team was led by Commercial Partner Mark Whitehead alongside Banking and Finance Partners Julie Harrison and Imogen Holland; Construction Partner Ralph Wrighton; Property Partner Helen O’Neill and Associate and Chartered Town Planner David Brocklehurst.
Mark Whitehead, head of Ward Hadaway’s Energy and Utilities team, said: “We are delighted to have assisted Emerald Biogas on what is a landmark renewable energy project for the North East.
“This was a complex and multi-faceted project which needed to be carried out within tight timescales. Thanks to our expertise in renewable energy schemes and the face that we can call on experts from a wide range of different fields, we were able to advise the directors on the many different aspects to the project and provide a true turnkey service.”
Antony Warren, director at Emerald Biogas, said: “On projects of this magnitude, it is vital to know that your legal advisers have all angles covered.
“Ward Hadaway’s in-depth knowledge of the renewable energy sector and the complexities surrounding funding was matched by the firm providing a true all-round team which was always on hand to provide prompt, pragmatic and commercial advice whenever it was needed.”
Construction of the plant has already got under way and the first phase of the facility is expected to be completed by July 2013.
With the addition of further phases of development, Emerald Biogas eventually aims to divert up to 40,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill and utilising up to 40,000 tonnes of energy break crops from local agriculture to create a range of renewable energy.
Once all planned phases of development have been carried out, the plant will have the capacity to create:
In addition, the AD process will also create 80,000 tonnes of nutrient rich digestate, enough to provide the nitrogen needs for over 4,000 acres of UK farmland, completely replacing ‘fossil fuel’ fertiliser.
Mark Whitehead said: “This will be the first commercial plant of this size in the North East and is set to make a real impact on the renewable energy sector in the region
“Emerald Biogas has demonstrated true vision and determination to get this project up and running and we are proud to have played a part in helping to make the company’s ambition a reality.”
Emerald’s directors and shareholders all have solid track records in farming, waste and recycling.
Antony and his brother Adam Warren already run a successful family-owned animal by-product, food waste collection and recycling business, John Warren (ABP).
Fellow Emerald Biogas director Ian Bainbridge owns a diverse farming, land & resource management and plasterboard recycling business, Emerald Agricore.
Their backgrounds and business interests will ensure that the AD plant will have access to a plentiful supply of feedstock.
A corporate finance and tax team from business advisors UNW advised Emerald Biogas on the £8m financing deal for the new plant.
Funding for the deal came from a mixture of term loan from HSBC, RDPE grant from DEFRA and loan through the Accelerator Growth Fund from waste reduction company, WRAP, together with direct investment from the Emerald Biogas directors.
How biogas works
Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is a natural biological process that stabilises organic waste in the absence of air.
At a temperature of between 37° and 52° centigrade and in a sealed environment, millions of bacteria ‘feed’ on organic acids within the waste to produce ‘biogas’, a mix of 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide.
This gas can either be cleaned and injected into the gas grid or combusted to recover its energy in the form of renewable power and heat.
Emerald Biogas says its AD plant will:
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