The following Frequently Asked Questions cover a range of topics related to the construction phase of the project. For information on the maintenance and operation of the site, please visit the Covanta website.

About Protos ERF

What is the Protos Energy Recovery (ERF) project?

The Protos ERF project will generate electricity by processing up to 400,000 tonnes of waste each year. It is located at the Protos energy and resource hub near Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, next to the Manchester Ship Canal. The plant will recover energy from waste.

Why is the facility needed?

The UK needs to get better at managing, recycling and minimising waste. Every year we send a huge amount of waste to landfill or export it to other countries. It not only costs to export, but it is damaging to the climate and pollutes the environment of other countries who may have lower environmental regulations and safeguards. The Protos ERF will recover energy safely and cleanly from waste to generate power which will be used by homes and businesses. It is a clean and safe way of treating waste that cannot economically or practically be recycled; it displaces the use of fossil fuel and it fills the gap left by the decommissioning of old coal-fired plants. The Government has pledged to end coal power generation in the UK by 2024.

How will the facility benefit the local community?

It is anticipated that there will be around 450 workers on site at the peak of the construction phase and approximately 50 new permanent jobs will be created when the site becomes fully operational in 2024. The facility will also aim, wherever possible, to use local suppliers in its supply chain.

Who is developing the project?

The Protos ERF is being developed by Covanta and Biffa. The site is owned by Peel NRE. Covanta is a world leader in providing sustainable waste and energy solutions with extensive experience of developing energy recovery facilities in North America and Europe. Biffa is one of the UK’s leading waste management businesses. Cheshire West & Chester Council granted planning consent for a plant at Protos in 2016. You can view the full details of the planning consent on the council’s website by searching for reference number 16/03074/FUL on the planning portal.

Construction programme

Who is the EPC contractor?

The Protos ERF is being built by an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) joint venture between MYTILINEOS S.A. and Standardkessel Baumgarte GmbH. Both companies are internationally recognised for their expertise in the energy sector.

During the construction of Protos ERF, we aim to source goods and services from local suppliers wherever possible.

In November 2021, we held a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event for local suppliers to meet our project teams and explore opportunities to bid for the contracts that will be offered during the course of the project.

If you were unable to attend but are still interested in becoming a potential supplier, you can submit your company details via our suppliers’ page.

What is the construction schedule?

Construction work started in December 2020 and the plant is expected to be operational in 2024. Once the Protos ERF is built, Covanta will operate and maintain the facility.

What are the working hours during the construction phase?

Standard working hours:

07:00 to 19:00 Monday to Saturday

Limited (quieter) construction works:

19:00 to 07:00 Monday to Saturday
07:00 to 07:00 on Sundays and bank holidays

Limited construction works include low noise civil activities such as earthworks (soil build-up and levelling works), excavation and some low noise piling preparation works.

Piling work is limited to the following hours:

07:30 to 18:00 Monday to Friday
08:00 to 13:30 on Saturdays
No piling will take place on Sundays or bank holidays

The above is subject to change depending on working conditions, workload and special events or circumstances.

Jobs and Suppliers

What will be done to encourage local people to apply for positions?

Our intention is to maximise the use of local labour where it is possible and sensible to do so. We will try to recruit skilled people from the local area as far as possible given the specialist nature of some of the equipment and machinery.

If you are interested in a role during the construction of Protos ERF, please submit your CV via the form on our jobs page.

What are the expected numbers of people working on site during construction?

The number of workers on site will fluctuate over time but we anticipate there will be around 450 people employed on site at the peak of the construction phase. The types of jobs will range widely across different trades, with different skills being required at different times. If you are interested in potential employment opportunities, during the construction of Protos ERF, please submit your CV via the form on our jobs page. Once construction is complete, there will be approximately 50 permanent operational roles at the facility.

There will also be multiple supply chain opportunities for businesses throughout the construction phase. Many subcontractors will be required during the construction of the facility, ranging from canteen services to engineering and construction, office materials, transport services and accommodation.

In November 2021, we held a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event for local suppliers to meet our project teams and explore opportunities to bid for the contracts that will be offered during the course of the project.

If you were unable to attend but are still interested in becoming a potential supplier, you can submit your company details via our suppliers page.

Will there be apprenticeship opportunities?

The traditional apprentice model is difficult to operate as the construction process will typically be over a three-year period, with a relatively limited number of roles operating continuously throughout this period. However, we have been able to address this in other areas of the country through the operation of ‘shared apprentices’ and the potential for this will be explored at Protos.

What aspects of the project will be from overseas?

Whilst many elements of the project, including a very high proportion of the civil works, will be predominantly delivered by UK companies, some aspects of the project will be sourced from outside the UK. The type of technology used in these plants is not always available in the UK for a number of historical reasons and there is a lack of industrial manufacturing capacity for the type of components required. Consequently, the design of the plant and many of the technical components will come from highly specialist companies outside the UK.

There will, however, be opportunities for suppliers to maintain and service the facility throughout its operational life.

How can my company be considered for contracts?

In November 2021, we held a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event for local suppliers to meet our project teams and explore opportunities to bid for the contracts that will be offered during the course of the project.

If you were unable to attend but are still interested in becoming a potential supplier, you can submit your company details via our suppliers page.

Will agency staff be employed on site?

Yes, there may well be times when labour is sourced through agencies – or principal labour suppliers as they are sometimes known. As part of the subcontracting agreements, we will ensure their terms and conditions meet or exceed the UK Voluntary Living Wage. Any vacancies given to agencies will also be required to be advertised locally. Lastly, we will ensure that any sole traders are given the opportunity to apply for vacancies through dedicated companies that meet our policies.

What proportion of staff are expected to be employed through agencies?

As the numbers of people on site vary, it is not possible to estimate this figure at this stage.

Will umbrella companies be used?

Only legitimate umbrella companies, with HMRC approval, will be used.

What commitment is there to source goods and services from local suppliers?

In November 2021, we held a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event for local suppliers to meet our project teams and explore opportunities to bid for the contracts that will be offered during the course of the project.

If you were unable to attend but are still interested in becoming a potential supplier, you can submit your company details via our suppliers page.