Green food super production centre planned for Royal Wootton Bassett

By Nick Batten on 12 December, 2023

A radical new development, which has the potential to see landfill sites across the country transformed into low-cost energy and affordable fruit and vegetable super production centres, is being proposed by Wiltshire-based Crapper and Sons Landfill Limited as part of the future vision for its Royal Wootton Basset site. 

The cutting-edge, climate-friendly ‘Sustain Initiative’ plans to use methane generated by its landfill site to power and heat positively pressured inflatable greenhouses. These will be used to produce affordable fruit and vegetables for the local community year-round, resulting in the creation of up to 130 new jobs. 

Based on the concept of the ancient ‘midden’ where domestic and animal waste would be piled outside homes to break down, providing heat, material to burn and composted biomass, the Sustain ‘Super-Midden’ is designed to turn landfill sites into energy, heat, food, and fertiliser generating centres for the benefit of the local community. 

Under the proposed plans landfill methane, which is currently safely ‘tapped’ and burnt off, will power engines to generate electricity and heat. In a world-first, this will be used to keep flexible greenhouses situated on the sealed landfill cells at a perfect growing temperature for horticulture throughout the year. 

These positively pressured greenhouses are engineered to flex with the movement of the landfill as it settles. Fully encapsulated, they are isolated from the landfill and the environment, preventing the ingress of contaminates, pests or disease.

CO2, produced as a by-product of the energy from gas process, will be fed directly into the greenhouses to enhance and control the growing environment.

Aided by ultraviolet light, ripening can be accelerated or slowed down to meet local demand. This allows the growing season to be extended year-round, enabling multi-cropping and harvesting of everything from lettuce to avocados.

Sustain’s circular solution will see its greenhouses produce just-in-time, demand-based fruit and vegetables using advanced modelling technology to manage planting, levels of heat, light and CO2. Minimising the need for storage and food miles, produce will be delivered to the doorstep alongside dairy products and meat from local farmers. 

The aim is for the proposed greenhouses at the Brinkworth Road site to supply 80% of all fruit and vegetable requirements for Wootton Basset, Malmesbury, Purton and Brinkworth, consuming up to 4,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

In time, food waste will be collected for anaerobic digestion when the food deliveries are made. This will be used to generate low-cost energy and fertiliser for use in the greenhouses, perpetuating the sustainable circular solution. 

Spare electricity from the methane-to-energy and energy from waste plants will be used to support green industrial development and recycling, providing high-quality local employment.

Full details of the proposed plans for the Super-Midden at the Brinkworth Road site, were recently shared with the local community at two public consultation events on 4th and 9th December.

Richard Crapper, Managing Director of Crapper and Sons Landfill Ltd, said, “Over the years we have worked hard to support our local community. The Sustain Super-Midden plans for the site at Brinkworth Road are the next stage of that legacy.

“Our goal is to transform the way landfill sites are utilised so that they become one of the most climate-friendly methods of waste disposal. This is made possible by repurposing and reusing landfill cells once they become full, adopting cutting edge technology to create affordable, just-in-time food, through a process that consumes more carbon than it produces.

“The green food Super-Midden production centre will be owned and operated by a Community Interest Company, which will return profit to the local community in the form of grants for community projects.”

Richard added, “All this is possible within the footprint of our existing site, but the really exciting part is that this solution has the potential to be replicated across the country, addressing the unsustainable practice of importing out-of-season produce from all over the world. 

“Adopted nationwide, our Super-Midden solution could alleviate food shortages, provide cheap power to local communities and help to address the cost-of-living crisis, all by generating affordable, freshly harvested, non-warehoused produce at a lower cost than the major supermarkets.

“It’s all part of our wider Sustain vision that aims to create sustainable working environments and communities of the future.”

For those who were unable to attend the consultations, information about the proposed plans and an online feedback form are now available on: sustainwiltshire.co.uk

Pictured above: An aerial image of the proposed Sustain green food super production centre, and Super-Midden, Royal Wootton Bassett