Public consultation sessions unveil plans for local green food super production centre

By Nick Batten on 9 January, 2024

Plans for a new low-cost energy and affordable fruit and vegetable super production centre at the Crapper and Sons Landfill Limited site, Royal Wootton Basset, have been unveiled at a series of public consultation events.

Last month, local residents, members of the public, and stakeholders took the opportunity to view the plans for the cutting-edge, climate friendly ‘Sustain Initiative’ at Royal Wootton Bassett Rugby Football Club, and at the Memorial Hall Station Rd, Royal Wootton Bassett.

Visitors had the opportunity to see how Sustain proposes to use methane generated at the landfill site to power and heat positively pressured inflatable greenhouses to produce affordable fruit and vegetables for the local community year-round; part of its ‘Super-Midden’ solution.

The team explained how landfill methane, which is currently safely ‘tapped’ and burnt off, can be used to power engines that will generate electricity and heat to keep flexible greenhouses on site at a perfect growing temperature for horticulture throughout the year. 

Engineered to flex with the movement of the sealed landfill cells, these fully encapsulated, positively pressured greenhouses are a world-first. Isolated from the external environment and the surface of the landfill, these greenhouses will use an airlock system to prevent contaminates, pests or disease entering, enabling an organic approach to the production of fruit and vegetables on site.

Using CO2 produced as a by-product of the energy from gas process to aid photosynthesis, alongside controllable ultraviolet light and heat, the growing environment can be accelerated or slowed down to meet demand. This allows the growing season to be extended year-round, enabling multi-cropping and harvesting of everything from lettuce to avocados, and will enable the Sustain Initiative to supply 80% of all fruit and vegetable requirements for Wootton Basset, Malmesbury, Purton and Brinkworth.

Guests attending the events had the opportunity to discuss Sustain’s circular solution, where the use of advanced modelling technology will enable just-in-time, demand-based fruit and vegetables to be grown and delivered to the doorstep, minimising the need for storage and food miles. Visitors also saw how, in time, food waste could be collected during food deliveries to be processed for anaerobic digestion, generating low-cost energy and fertiliser for use in the greenhouses, further perpetuating the sustainable circular solution.

The Sustain team also shared plans which mean that spare electricity from the methane-to-energy, and energy from waste plants could be used to support green industrial development and recycling, providing high quality local employment, on top of the 130 new jobs that would be created by the Sustain ‘Super-Midden’ super food production site. The team also talked about the potential for a farm shop for produce during the early stages of the initiative, while the initial trial greenhouse is tested and perfected, and the first 20 units are constructed. 

Richard Crapper, Managing Director of Crapper and Sons Landfill Ltd, said, “We would like to thank all those who took the time to join us at our public consultation events to find out more about the Sustain ‘Super-Midden’ concept, and to provide feedback on our plans both on the day and online.

“It was a great opportunity to meet local residents, to listen to their questions, and to explain how we plan to turn our landfill site into one of the most climate-friendly methods of waste disposal, at the same time as alleviating food shortages, reducing food costs, and addressing the unsustainable practice of importing out-of-season produce from all over the world.

“I’m pleased to say that those attending were particularly interested in how Sustain will be owned and operated by a Community Interest Company, so that profits can be returned to the local community in the form of grants for community projects.  It’s all part of our wider Sustain vision, which aims to create sustainable working environments and communities of the future.”

Richard added, “All this is possible within the footprint of our existing site. It’s a pioneering solution which totally rethinks how landfill sites can be repurposed and reused for good. Through Sustain, we aim to lead the way, creating a blueprint for other landfill operators to follow, so that they too can cut CO2, and provide affordable food to their local communities at a lower cost and more sustainably than the major supermarkets.”

The Sustain public consultation remained open until 5th January. Full details including Q&As, an animated explainer film, images and a feedback form can be found at: sustainwiltshire.co.uk

Pictured above: An aerial depiction of the proposed new site (© Designscape Architects Ltd)