Latest News - Updating you on our activities
27th October 2021: Outage update
We have come to the end of our planned outage time and completed maintenance work throughout the facility. During this period, crucial repairs have been carried out on the grate and boiler, including replacing large areas of refractory. This is the protective layer (like concrete) that covers the boiler pipes to avoid damage from the corrosive gases of the waste fire. For the first time, our maintenance team used a drone to fly through the boiler looking for damage and blockages. This allowed other works to continue and reduced the amount of scaffolding required.
Next week, onsite face-to-face visits start again! We are very excited to welcome visitors back after the disruption caused by the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.
4th October 2021: Annual maintenance
This year we will be shutting down for annual maintenance activities between Wednesday 6th October and Wednesday 27th October. As for previous years, letters have been sent out to local residents in the vicinity of our Facility, advising them of these dates.
During this period, we will continue to receive waste from the partner councils, keeping it out of landfill. Maintenance activities have been planned to minimise disturbance to our neighbours; you may notice additional vehicles and contractors on site, as well as welfare facilities for these additional staff.
20th September 2021: Incinerator Liaison Committee
The Incinerator Liaison Committee (ILC) held their first in-person meeting on Thursday 16th September, having suspended meetings during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although unable to meet, we kept in regular contact with members via email and post; we also offered a virtual meeting but members preferred to wait until we could get together on site again.
The minutes from the previous meeting in January 2020 were agreed and are available on our ‘Links and Downloads’ page as usual. The next meeting will be held on Thursday 20th January 2022, when we will resume six-monthly meetings on the third Thursday of January and July at 6pm in our lecture theatre.
Everyone is welcome to come along to these meetings as a guest, but please let our Community Liaison Manager, Jane Ford, know so that we can ensure there are enough seats for all attendees.
15th September 2021: Live site tours
We were delighted to welcome our first in-person site tour since the start of lockdown this week! A local community group came to site for a brief presentation and tour of the tipping hall, control room and boiler house – we even visited the roof garden to take in the views.
We are slowly returning to a more ‘normal’ situation, although our priority remains delivering the waste treatment service to the South West Devon Waste Partnership. After the maintenance outage next month, we hope to see the return of schools and other groups in numbers close to pre-pandemic levels. The annual open day and litter picks will also resume in 2022.
18th August 2021: Befriending service meets on site
Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, we were approached by the Elder Tree Befriending Service looking for a space to hold group sessions. This had to be put on hold as the country went into national lockdown. At the start of this month, we were finally able to arrange a meeting with the group leader and agree COVID-secure measures that have enabled a small group of retired people to meet in our lecture theatre every week.
The Elder Tree groups combat loneliness and isolation; attendees enjoy chatting over refreshments as well as gentle sports activities, including Boccia and table tennis!
1st July 2021: Annual sponsorship
As you may know, throughout the global pandemic and various lockdowns of the past 16 months, we have continued to offer sponsorship to local groups and organisations. We are delighted to announce the outcome of our spring round of applications, especially as we were able to fund all projects on this occasion!
A primary school in Torbay received nearly £1000 to set up their aluminium can recycling project – cleaning up their local environment and raising funds for the school by selling the metal on for recycling.
A children’s football team in Plymouth received £500 for new match kit.
Plymouth Scouts and Guides each received £215 to pay for their Recycle Devon badges, making these free to earn – as long as the young people complete all of the challenges!
Autumn sponsorship applications will be assessed in October, for payment in November, and full details are available on our ‘Links and Downloads’ page.
14th June 2021: Great British Spring Clean
In spite of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great British Spring Clean returned this year and we were able to hold a scaled-down version of our annual Clean the Creek event. Teaming up with Clean Our Patch CIC, local families came along to help clean up Blackie Woods and the adjacent creek. We were saddened to see some damage caused by vandalism, but very pleased to note that there was far less litter than in previous years.
24th May 2021: STEM week
One of our local primary schools held a STEM week recently, during what would have been their end of school exams week. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, these tests were cancelled and a week of activities was planned instead. Of course, this was an excellent excuse for us to get involved! Continuing the theme of COP26, we introduced the Moths to a Flame project and supported 75 students to make moths and send their whispers of hope to world leaders.
You can see their mechanical moths displayed in one of the classrooms.
17th May 2021: UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26)
Our community liaison manager has been working with various groups, both online and in Covid-secure spaces, on an Art and Energy Collective project. This is linked to the upcoming Conference of the Parties, taking place in Glasgow in November. The aim is to empower young people (and adults) to send whispers of hope to world leaders through an innovative collective artwork. There are two parts to the artwork: a visual display and an audio recording.
You don’t have to be in Plymouth to get involved and you can find out more here: https://www.mothstoaflame.art/
The physical artwork will be a display of moths, made from plastic milk bottles, which will be lit with ultraviolet light. The audio recording will be compiled from the whispers of hope recorded on the Moths to a Flame website.
What do you think is the most important thing world leaders should be doing to tackle climate change?
3rd May 2021: Virtual site tours
Local schools have been taking up our offer of virtual live tours of the Facility; some have even brought the whole school along! We are able to use a range of virtual platforms so that teachers can choose one they are already familiar with. Although visitors don’t experience the smells of the tipping hall or the heat of the fire, we are able to show them additional interesting areas that wouldn’t normally be accessible during a physical tour.
Other unexpected benefits to these virtual tours are the fact that we don’t have to limit numbers and we can offer tours to visitors from further afield!
19th April 2021: Showing support and raising awareness
This weekend, we showed our support for a very ill little girl called Azaylia. We were approached by a Plymouth resident who is one of over 165,000 people around the world supporting Azaylia’s family via a Facebook page. This eight-month-old child suffers from a rare form of leukaemia and, in spite of being given only two days to live – 18 days ago – she continues to fight this deadly disease. As part of the support campaign, towns across the country have been lighting their buildings orange and, of course, we were humbled to be part of this.
Our electrical engineer programmed the lights in shades of orange which pulsed on and off as a beacon of hope.
14th April 2021: Working with our local youth again!
The Barne Barton Community Ambassadors have been busy this week, brightening up our site and woods. The older volunteer group spent over four hours painting a wall along our access road, which is a huge improvement! The youngest ambassadors spent two hours creating a name pebble trail in the woods as part of a city-wide pebble art project.
We look forward to slowly and carefully working with more groups again!
9th April 2021: Virtual work experience
During the school Easter holidays, we offered a four-day work experience opportunity. This was part of Green Skills Week and the aim was to encourage young people to consider careers in the waste industry. A total of seven students attended from Devon, Torbay and further afield!
MVV colleagues and waste officers from Devon and Torbay supported daily question and answer sessions, talking about their roles and how they got into the waste industry. The students all pledged to take action against climate change at the end of the week; their ideas included:
- Setting up a litter-picking group
- Introducing a paper recycling system in school through the art department
- Campaigning for a meat-free day every week via the school canteen
The message that we can all make a difference was well and truly embraced by these young people!
8th March 2021: Career Champion!
Our Business Support Apprentice, Max Jackson, has been recognised as a Career Champion by the Careers and Enterprise Company. Nominated by his old school, Max is celebrated in the ‘Brilliant Young Person’ category and you can read his story here.
Our Managing Director, Paul Carey, presented Max with his certificate in a COVID-safe ceremony on site; we are delighted to be able to support young people in the communities we serve, as they embark upon their first steps into the workplace.
8th February 2021: Living Wage accreditation
We are delighted to announce that we are now an accredited Living Wage Employer! This means that every member of staff working for MVV in the UK receives a real Living Wage, which is higher than the government’s minimum or National Living Wage. It is independently calculated every year and reflects the actual cost of living.
MVV, along with nearly 7000 other organisations, voluntarily choose to pay the real Living Wage because we believe that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. You can find out more about the Living Wage here.
This commitment also extends to our contractors. We have therefore amended our new supplier questionnaire to encourage all our contractors, such as those providing cleaning services, to also pay the real Living Wage. This is clearly stated on the Tendering pages of our website.
15th January 2021: Visits and education update
Although we are disappointed that we are still unable to offer site tours to schools and other groups, we are delighted to announce that a virtual tour is available so we can bring the experience into the classroom (or even into your home!)
We are working on offering virtual work experience placements this year, in case physical attendance on site remains restricted, as well as a range of other online opportunities to maintain awareness of waste minimisation and sustainability issues. Specific events will be announced as they are confirmed.
As soon as the guidelines allow, we will look to get on-site visits back, with robust risk assessments in place to ensure these will be safe for everyone involved.
14th December 2020: Autumn sponsorship
We are delighted to have been able to sponsor two local projects this autumn: Clean Our Patch community litter pickers have continued their good work across Plymouth, with socially distanced litter picks as the guidelines allow and solo litter picking during times of tighter restrictions. Our sponsorship will enable more groups to be set up across Plymouth, as well as facilitating additional numbers of individuals to clean their patches whilst social distancing measures remain in place.
We have also awarded sponsorship to Plymouth Heartbeat to purchase a new exercise bike to support more patients following heart attacks and strokes.
Applications for the spring round of sponsorship are now open and guidance, as well as an application form can be found here.
1st December 2020: Aldermans apprentices
We are proud to report that the two apprentices we sponsor at Aldermans Tooling Ltd have worked incredibly hard throughout what has been an extremely challenging year. Both apprentices have been recognised at the Plymouth Manufacturers Group Apprentice Awards; Will Williamson achieved an award finalist runner-up prize and Felix Bowker scooped joint winner of the Rising Star category.
Felix also managed to take part in a Jobs Recruitment Fair, flying the flag for aspiring young engineers, before the national lockdown prevented such activities. Both Will and Felix have now progressed to the next stage of their apprenticeships and we are delighted to continue to support them.
“Apprentices are an important part of our staff team at Aldermans and we are hugely proud of their achievements,” commented Karen Friendship, Managing Director at Aldermans. “With the help of MVV’s sponsorship, we are able to develop Plymouth’s next generation of manufacturing talent and reap the benefits in our business too. Retaining skills locally also helps to build a stronger future for Plymouth’s manufacturing community.”
6th November 2020: Visits and education update
We regret that we remain unable to offer visits to the public as a result of COVID-19 and the associated government guidelines. We can offer virtual assemblies and/or online workshops to schools and the wider public; we are also looking at the possibility of virtual tours of our facility to give a better insight into how we operate.
As soon as the guidelines allow, we will look to get on-site visits back, with robust risk assessments in place to ensure these will be safe for everyone involved.
30th October 2020: Spring sponsorship
We have continued with our annual sponsorship and awarded money to three projects within our local community here in Plymouth. We have awarded £700 each to three projects: a sensory garden for a local nursery school, a community gardening project and a Green Power racing car project for a local secondary school.
Autumn applications for sponsorships are now being assessed, with the next round of funding due in spring 2021.
9th October 2020: Maintenance outage completed
The Devonport team have shown tremendous commitment and resolve in completing all essential maintenance tasks at this planned maintenance shutdown. We are now in the process of bringing the facility back online, with burners in operation to dry out the boiler lining before coming back onto waste on Sunday.
You may notice steam venting from the roof of the boiler house over the next couple of days. This is entirely normal and will happen until we bring the facility back onto waste and send the steam to the turbine to recommence electricity generation.
5th October 2020: New apprenticeship
We are delighted to announce that we have created a new apprenticeship, which has been taken up by a local young person, Max Jackson, who studied up to A-level at Devonport High School for Boys. This is a business support apprenticeship and Max will be working across all areas of the UK business, as well as completing his first-year qualification in Business Administration at City College, Plymouth.
We wish him well in his new role and look forward to seeing his professional development over the three years that he will spend with MVV.
21st September 2020: Maintenance outage
We have now shut the facility down for its annual maintenance, which was originally planned for June. Our maintenance team have worked hard to keep the facility operating for an extra three months and have organised contractors as well as additional welfare facilities on site. Covid-19 measures are in place, in addition to the usual stringent health and safety protocols, to ensure the safety of all staff and contractors. The initial inspection of the boiler suggests there are no nasty surprises and maintenance works have commenced today.
All maintenance activities are due to be completed by 12th October.
13th July 2020: Visit and education update
Our usual offer of site tours and waste education have been on hold since March. We took the decision early on to shield our key operational staff and lower the risk of infection by stopping all non-essential visitors to site. Our key operational staff, like the NHS and other sectors, have remained in work and ensured the safe and continuing treatment of residual waste for the South West Devon Waste Partnership; we are grateful to them for their hard work throughout what has been a difficult and challenging time.
As schools start to welcome students back, we are looking at how we can safely resume our work to support waste minimisation messages on behalf of the councils we serve. Our Community Liaison Manager is available to come into schools from September, providing both the school and MVV have adequate risk assessments and appropriate measures in place to minimise any risk of infection.
We are taking tentative bookings for visits from November, again with appropriate risk assessments in place; these will be subject to change if government guidelines or local infection rates suggest there is an increased risk. Please see visit and booking information here.
26th June 2020: Maintenance update
As you may be aware, we usually shut the facility down for annual maintenance in June. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place, we have had to postpone this year’s outage. Our key operational staff in waste acceptance and power generation have kept the facility running safely and our maintenance team have worked hard to rearrange contractors; we are now planning to shut down in September so that essential maintenance can be undertaken.
As always, we will issue a mailshot to local residents confirming details closer to the time.
8th June 2020: Recycling bottom ash
Since 2015, when we started operations, the Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA) has been taken to the Netherlands for processing by Rock Solid. The IBA is all of the material that falls off the end of the grate, which includes non-combustible items such as metals. Rock Solid are experts at removing the metals for recycling and the remaining ash is used as aggregate in the construction industry. You can read about some specific projects using IBA aggregate here: https://www.rocksolidbv.com/projects
We will never resort to landfilling this valuable resource and have worked with Rock Solid over the last five years to find a more local site to ensure that the aggregate produced can be used in the South West. In February, we were able to achieve this goal and the IBA from our Plymouth facility now travels a much shorter distance to Exeter for processing.
8th April 2020: Supporting our NHS and all key workers
Along with many others across the country and the world, most of our staff are working from home. Our operational staff, accepting waste and operating the energy generation side of the business, are key workers and continue to keep the site operational through these challenging times.
In honour of all key workers everywhere, we have turned the lights blue to show our support and gratitude.
23rd March 2020: Supporting parents and children during school closures
In these difficult and uncertain times, many of you may have children at home who you are trying to support in the absence of normal school lessons. It is really important to consider their (and your own) mental health as we all adjust to a very different version of ‘normal’. No doubt you will want to further your children’s education but it is advisable to balance this with trying to have fun together as well.
Our Community Liaison Manager, Jane, is a qualified primary school teacher and would be more than happy to assist with any work sent home from school that you need advice on. She has also developed a range of waste and sustainability education resources which are used in our joint education work with the local councils. Please feel free to contact her if you would like any support, she will respond and/or signpost as and when she can. Many other teachers and educators are offering the same support online and via social media.
We hope that everyone stays safe and healthy throughout this challenging time.
18th March 2020: Visitor and open day update
In line with the emerging Government guidance, we are postponing all site visits up to Easter (mid-April). This includes the annual open day which was planned for 8th April.
Please be assured that the offer of site tours and presentations is an important part of the educational work that we do as a responsible waste management company and we will rearrange all visits and the open day in due course.
We are reviewing the situation for visits currently booked for the second half of April and beyond and will respond in line with further Government guidance. Your safety and that of our staff is of the utmost importance and we wish you well in these uncertain times.
9th March 2020: Annual open day – save the date
We will be holding our annual open day during the school Easter holidays this year, on Wednesday 8th April. The event will be completely free and include family-friendly activities as well as site tours, food and refreshments; more information will be provided closer to the time and we look forward to seeing many of you there again!
3rd March 2020: Sponsorship news
Every year, we are delighted to support local groups and projects; the spring round of sponsorship is now open and applications will be assessed in April. Last year we sponsored a number of exciting projects, including:
- Sparkwell primary school – T shirts and Eco-schools Green Flag assessment
- Lipson Vale primary school – litter picking equipment
- Pollenize CIC – adult and child beekeeping suits
- Stannary Brass Band – music bursary
- Clean Our Patch CIC – litter picking equipment
- South Dartmoor Riding for the Disabled – pony and arena hire
- Kingsbridge Dementia Friendly Community – inclusion events
21st February 2020: Clean the Creek
Once again, local people turned out for our annual community litter pick and clean the creek event. We collected 45 bags of litter, weighing 180kg and leaving the local woods and waterways a better place for people and wildlife to enjoy. We would like to thank 35th Whitleigh Scouts for helping to run the event, Clean Our Patch CIC for extra hands and equipment and Bodhi Fitness and Wellbeing for providing healthy food and recipes!
7th November 2019: Supporting local apprentices
We are committed to the educational activities that we deliver across a range of audiences, from mums and toddler groups to retired professionals (and everyone in between). This year we have signed contracts with two local apprentices to support their programme of learning. Alderman Tooling Ltd is a local engineering and fabrication firm with an excellent apprenticeship programme. We are supporting two apprentices, Will and Felix, with bursaries of up to £3000 per apprentice per year to add value to their existing apprenticeships.
Aldermans’ Managing Director, Karen Friendship, said, “We are delighted to have received this additional support for our apprentices and thank the MVV team both for the funding and the opportunity to visit and see the engineering in action.”
20th September 2019: Going Green
As you may know, we have developed a calendar of ‘special’ lights to mark such thinks as UK Saints days, Remembrance and charities. This week we have joined other landmarks in the UK and around the world to help raise awareness of Mitochondrial Disease by lighting up green.
Mitochondrial Disease is an incurable and life-limiting genetic disorder that affects an estimated one baby born in the UK every day. We are going green in memory of two young boys, Noah and Aiden Baptie, as well as to help raise awareness of the disease and the Lily Foundation, which is a charity offering support to families affected by it.
29th August 2019: Annual open day
We were delighted to welcome over 240 people to our open day this year, with families braving the rain and wind to come and take part in site tours, ocean discovery activities, crafts, wildflower area and bubble creations. As always, staff from the Partnership councils and our bottom ash processors, Rock Solid, were also on hand to answer questions and explain how our local waste systems are operated. The BBQ was provided by Bodhi Fitness and Wellbeing, a local family business who always deliver to a high standard.
We are already planning improvements for next year to enable even more people to take part in the site tours which are extremely popular. Next year’s event will take place in the Easter holidays (another time of year when too much packaging can be an issue).
26th July 2019: Annual open day
Since 2017 we have been holding an open day at the Facility to allow people to come and see how we divert non-recyclable waste from landfill. This year our event will take place on Wednesday 14th August from 11am to 3pm. There will be a beach theme and BBQ, as well as the usual site tours and other activities. Everything is free! We look forward to your visit.
25th July 2019: Blackie Woods
Every year we undertake maintenance works in Blackie Woods. This year, we will be removing the wooden steps that have become damaged and dangerous. Our landscape contractor will be clearing the area this week and replacing the steps with a sloped path which will make the pond and decking overlooking Barne Brake more accessible for pushchairs. We will be locking the gates at either end of the main path while these works are taking place next week. We thank you for your understanding.
10th June 2019: Outage update
The first week of our maintenance shutdown is now behind us and we are happy to report that all work is on track so far. Those of you living nearby may have noticed that we had contractors climbing the steeplejack ladder to the very top of the chimney for the first time last week! The journey to the top is only part of the story, however. As they climbed the outside of the chimney, they performed visual checks as well as making sure that all of the lights (required by the Civil Aviation Authority) were working. Once at the top, they then abseiled down inside the chimney to give it a thorough inspection.
28th May 2019: One million Tonnes!
Since April 2015, we have been diverting waste from landfill and treating it at our EfW CHP Facility in Plymouth. At around 9am this morning, the millionth Tonne of waste arrived on the weighbridge. This is an exciting milestone for the South West Devon region, showing a commitment to implementing the waste hierarchy and ensuring that no council-collected waste goes to landfill.
20thMay 2019: Annual maintenance shutdown
As you may know, we shut the Facility down once a year to carry out routine maintenance. This year’s outage will take place between 3rd and 16th June. During this time there will be additional contractors working across the site, including some external work requiring the use of cranes; you may notice more cars than usual in our car park and other vehicles around site, as well as additional welfare facilities for contractor use. We will continue to receive waste from the councils, keeping it out of landfill. A mailshot will go out to local residents advising them of this activity.
13thMay 2019: Visits and education
We are delighted to share some exciting figures that have emerged from our end of year reporting; among other things, we have, once again, seen a significant increase in visitor numbers. A total of 3386 people have taken part in site visits since April 2018, with 266.5 hours being spent with schools; 24 new schools have engaged with our education programme and schools that have visited before continue to return. The 87% increase in schools’ engagement has been helped by Devon County and Torbay councils funding the cost of transport to our site.
29th April 2019: International Workers’ Memorial Day
We are proud to be able to support our sister Facility in Dundee by lighting up purple in honour of International Workers’ Memorial Day; our QHSE Manager in Dundee has arranged a full week of Health and Safety activities across the operational and construction sites, including guest speakers and other special guests – please see our Baldovie latest news page for more information.
12th April 2019: Easter Litter Hunt
Once again, we had a fantastic turn-out for our annual litter pick, with more than 50 local people joining MVV staff, family and friends to clean up Blackie Woods and Weston Mill creek. We would like to thank Bodhi Fitness and Wellbeing and Surplus Rescue for their continued support and the local community for their endless enthusiasm; one child asked if we could arrange a litter pick for every school holiday! Everyone’s efforts were proved worthwhile when we weighed the rubbish and discovered we had removed quarter of a Tonne of litter from our nearby green and blue spaces.
9th April 2019: Easter Litter Hunt
As previously announced, we are holding our annual community clean up as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s ‘Great British Spring Clean’ this Friday, 12th April. The event will start from 1pm and all litter picking equipment will be provided along with refreshments and a High Tea served by Bodhi Fitness and Wellbeing who have supported this event for the last four years. Wyld Thyngz return to Blackie Woods, offering a break around the camp fire and a drop-off point for full bags of rubbish; Surplus Rescue will also provide a drop-off point for teams of litter pickers who venture down to Weston Mill Creek.
8th April 2019: Photography exhibition
Sarah Newton, a photography student from Falmouth University , has installed her ‘Out – Sight – In’ photographic exhibition in our visitor centre; it depicts debris washed up by the sea and places to dispose of what we no longer have use for. The exhibition has sparked many conversations about our impact on the planet and Sarah will be helping out with our Easter litter hunt on Friday 12th April between 1pm and 4pm; as part of her Degree course, she is seeking feedback on her photographs and we would like to encourage everyone who comes to help on Friday to take the time to speak with her about her work – a sneak preview can be seen in the photo on the right.
5th April 2019: CIWM new members event
We were delighted to host a new members event for the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) on Friday; the event was over-subscribed and our Community Liaison Manager will be arranging a site visit during the week beginning 29th April for those members who were unable to attend. We would like to thank Iain Stevens from Devon County Council / CIWM for organising the event and Dale Unsworth from Cornwall Council / CIWM for supporting on the day.
18th March 2019: Lighting up in support and celebration
We sometimes change the colours of the lights on the side of our Facility in order to support and celebrate both local and National causes including research, UK Saints days, remembrance and Christmas. In addition, we are sometimes asked to show our support by other groups. Most recently, we displayed the colours of “Help for Heroes” in order to support their ‘Cut the Clock’ campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues and support available to veterans.
The dates we will be celebrating and supporting for the rest of this year are:
|Epilepsy awareness||26th March|
|April Fools Day||1st April|
|St George’s Day||23rd April|
|World Environment Day||5th June|
|World Alzheimer’s Day||21st September|
|Recycle week||23rd-29th September|
|Baby Loss Awareness||9th-15th October|
|Breast Cancer Awareness||18th October|
|Trafalgar Day||21st October|
|Remembrance Day||11th November|
|St Andrew’s Day||30th November|
|Christmas||24th December-6th January|
18th February 2019: Community litter pick – save the date
In our latest newsletter, which can be found here , we announced that this year’s community litter pick and fun day would be held during the February school half term holiday; since the time of writing, Keep Britain Tidy have announced the dates for their Great British Spring Clean and we would like to tie our local event in with this national campaign: https://www.keepbritaintidy.org/get-involved/support-our-campaigns/great-british-spring-clean
We will, as always, offer refreshments on the day and the event will take place on Friday 12th April (times to be confirmed, dependent on tide times); as this falls in the school Easter Holiday, there will be an Easter theme with everyone encouraged to go on a litter hunt!