The Bedford Green Energy Innovation Park is set to become a real community asset. Our Senior Consultant, Graeme, has been leading the way on the multi-million development project. Since 2009, we have been supporting the Bedford Borough Council in restoring the former non-hazardous landfill and implementing improvements in pollution prevention. Now we are in a position to truly transform the land into a green space that realises the environmental ambitions of Mayor Dave Hodgson.
Bedford Green Energy Innovation Park
The ambitious partnership between Wiser Environment, the Bedford Borough Council and the South East Midlands Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) has resulted in a unique opportunity for all. Our project management and innovation is to overhaul the Elstow Landfill into a clean energy plant, a modern community centre and a platform for economic growth.
The Bedford Borough Council has often asserted that they aim to become Carbon Neutral by 2030. They emphasise their commitment to promoting environmental sustainability in their Sustainable Development and Environmental Efficiency Strategy.
Our partnership with the Council has been pivotal in this quest for carbon neutralisation. The Bedford Green Energy Innovation Park concept will provide the community with clean power in the form of a solar farm and an anaerobic digestion plant.
Approximately 4 hectares of solar panels will complement the Bedford Green Energy Innovation Park’s expansive southern slope. An estimated £3 million worth of photovoltaic panels will capture the sun’s energy; converting it into electricity. The electricity generated here will be used on-site to reduce the need for carbon-based energy, then it will be fed into the national grid and used for powering the local community.
There is also the potential for this to help facilitate the installation of electric vehicle charging points at the nearby Park and Ride as well as commercial opportunities for local businesses.
Alongside solar panels, the park will also have the latest energy storage technology in the form of long-lasting battery storage units. The solar-battery hybrid system will be integrated with the anaerobic digestion plant to supply public and private power demand.
Anaerobic Digestion Plant
Here, the plan is to establish an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant at the north-eastern edge of the Green Energy Park. The plant will treat the community’s household food waste and convert it into electricity, heat, gas and fuel. The principle here is to harvest the resulting biogas from anaerobic microorganisms that biodegrade the waste. Furthermore, complementing the pursuit for 100% resource recovery and alleviating the demand for power at peak times.
In addition to generating power, the AD plant will also produce compressed natural gas (CNG). CNG is a diesel replacement that can fuel the Elstow Park and Ride fleet and reduce emissions. The plant will produce CNG by compressing the natural gas yielded from the waste.
Additionally, the AD plant will utilise carbon capture and storage technology. Capturing the CO2 at the source in this way will reduce the chances of them polluting the local atmosphere.
The combination of green infrastructure and community benefits is what makes this opportunity truly unique. At the heart of the Bedford Green Energy Innovation Park will feature an imaginative Community Centre. This centre will represent the local history of the site, Bedfordshire and promote a variety of healthy lifestyles. These include walking, cycling and other sporting events.
Working with a consortium of local and award-winning businesses, we have designed an exhibition that will draw the local area together. Picturesque walking routes will outskirt the development and a mountain biking route will make the most of the undulating topography. Likewise, creative play areas and café facilities will attract young families and engage them with local history.
The community’s historic legend, John Bunyan, was a major inspiration for our architects. Bunyan was an English writer in the 17th century. Their most significant piece a Christian allegory called ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come‘. This text is the third most published book in history and symbolises a person’s pilgrimage through life. The features of the Innovation Park naturally lend themselves to the landscape of Pilgrims Progress. For example, schools could use the journey up the slope as an allegory of the Pilgrim climbing to the summit of ‘Hill Difficulty‘.
Driving Industry Growth
Not only will the Bedford Green Energy Innovation Park be a proud symbol of Bedfordshire’s history and culture, but its strategic location and access to resource recovery facilities mean that it will also be a platform for economic prosperity.
The Innovation Park sits in the middle of the UK Government-backed Oxford-Cambridge Arc Expressway; a corridor that brings together a group of globally renowned, innovation and research focused cities. Whilst the Government is equipping locations along the Expressway with the tools for growth, our Innovation Park will supplement the growth by providing ample and sustainable employment opportunities.
The Oxford-Cambridge Arc Expressway
Being strategically placed at the A6/A421 interchange means that it will directly benefit from the Oxford-Cambridge Arc funded transport infrastructure upgrades. The A6/A421 links Bedford to Cambridge and Milton Keynes and it has been experiencing a resurgence in development. Moreover, the Green Energy Park will provide a mid-stop point for those travelling through the Expressway. Private electric vehicles can recharge their batteries at the charging points and their well-being at the Community Centre.
The Oxford-Cambridge Arc Expressway project is also keen to offer opportunities to link local residents travelling sustainably. The plan is to redevelop the East-West Rail route that connects Oxford, Bicester, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge. What this means is, residents will be able to travel from their homes to our electrically charged Park and Ride and then off to Oxford or Cambridge. Offering local residents a respite to the burden of the first mile/last mile will promote growth and bring communities together.
Local Employment Opportunities
Not only does the Expressway support commuter travel, but it will also enhance and streamline the movement and logistics of resources. Our Green Energy Park will become a hub for the effective management of resources including leachate and waste. Providing an integrated recovery solution for the Bedfordshire community.
In addition to using the aforementioned sustainable energy sources, our leachate plant and other infrastructure will be complemented with ground source heat pumps. The on-site treatment plant’s temperature will be maintained by these pumps; optimising the biological process of leachate treatment throughout the year. This alongside improved infrastructure will create significant savings for the treatment plant and will position them to sustainably grow; othering more employment opportunities through a carbon offsetting facility.
Bringing it All Together
In short, Wiser Environment and the Bedford Borough Council have worked together to lead an imaginative project that is one-of-a-kind. The Bedford Green Energy Innovation Park is a forward-thinking combination of employing a diverse range of carbon-neutral energy solutions, a place for the local community to engage with culture and supporting economic growth. This project will enable Bedford Borough Council to significantly reduce their carbon emissions, improve the availability of EV charging infrastructure to local residents and – most importantly – it is the big step towards their goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.
Do you need any specialist advice to help deliver a large-scale project? Maybe you have ambitions to develop your community or renovate land? Book a meeting with one of our Land Quality experts, and we can support you in achieving your project’s scope.