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Advice Clinic: Training


“I’m thinking of establishing an AD plant on my farm. How do I gather knowledge about the process and how it works? Who do I need to contact? And how can I get my people trained to run an AD plant?”

to confirm the regulatory requirements are the local Planning and Highways Officers and your local Environment Agency office. Regarding training, your plant provider should offer a minimum period of operator training once the plant has been built. During the build your nominated operators should have the opportunity to review the build stages to understand how the equipment and processes interface. The size of the plant will determine the level of competence you are required to evidence under the current site permit regulations but, as a new site, you may have a period of time to build up a portfolio of knowledge.”


Terence Brownhill, ADBA Director, Chair of ADBA’s Training, Safety and Environmental Management Group, and Business Development Manager of PROjEN (part of Capita) T +44 (0)1928 752500 E

of the shortage of exceptional candidates. In my opinion, the winners will be those businesses who accept that in-depth operational AD knowledge is a rare commodity. It’s crucial to hire for attitude and invest time and resources into training the right people – take a long-term view and be prepared to be flexible. For example, hire talent with a background in composting/other biological treatment; when coupled with in-house AD training this can be a powerful combination, particularly when compared to hiring the wrong person with the right experience, or waiting for months on end for that elusive ‘perfect’ candidate to appear.”


determined by operator decisions. The operator must decide, set values for and control a whole range of factors for the plant. These can include, but are not limited to: the digester hydraulic retention; the organic loading rate; the feed dry solids concentration; the nutrient requirement of the feedstock;



Bobby Benson, Director, Robert Adams Search & Selection Ltd T +44 (0)208 420 7482 E

“What’s the best way to help train AD plant operatives to maximise plant revenue, minimise the quantity of digestate produced and meet PAS 110 requirements?”

“Anaerobic digestion is the conversion of organic resources into principally methane and carbon dioxide, plus digestate. How much methane is produced and the stability of the digestate is largely

“We are struggling to recruit great candidates with an AD background. Should we widen our remit and consider training the right person in-house?”

“The recovery of the job market is great news and the growth of the UK AD industry is exciting. However, one challenge this presents is a growing war for talent and, as a recruiter in this space, I’m aware

absences, two people are recommended). There are also guidelines on the minimum hours of attendance per week on site by the competent manager. This certificate can be obtained by contacting an approved assessment centre (such as Serac) who can then provide two choices for the employee(s) to achieve the appropriate qualification. The employee can either: • Be assessed on site for an NVQ – this usually takes 6-12 months; • Attend a short course, then pass a test – this usually takes 3-6 months.


This is the minimum training as required by the permit. Further training may well be required in order to safely and effectively operate the facility.”

Don Glaister, Managing Director, Serac UK T +44 (0)1603 627428 E

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and the likelihood of specific feedstocks generating foam. But what exactly are these? And how and why should they be managed? In an increasingly competitive landscape for feedstocks, and with growing pressure upon landbank, now more than ever the industry needs trained digester operators who understand all these factors and who can carry out practical solutions.”

Dr Nigel Horan, Director, Aqua Enviro, and Reader in Public Health Engineering at University of Leeds T +44 (0)1924 257891 E

“We are in the process of setting up an AD plant and applying for an Environment Agency (EA) permit. How do we obtain the correct training and certification for our employees?”

“For the site to be compliant with the current EA requirements for competent management on permitted sites, at least one person needs to hold the relevant WAMITAB certificate (though to cover for

“A good start is to read ADBA’s Practical Guide to AD, contact ADBA’s Farmers’ Consultancy Service, and visit as many plants in your area as possible. The key people to commence a dialogue with in order

In our regular advice column, ADBA members provide answers to some common AD queries.

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