Thursday, November 6, 2014

[biofuelwatch] (Nexterra's) Avonmouth biomass plans bite the dust

[But the Green Investment Bank has seen fit to fund an identical Nexterra plant in Birmingham, set to break a record - as the least efficient UK biomass plant (at 20.4% efficiency)!]

Avonmouth biomass plans bite the dust

Chris Brown, November 6, 2014

Councillors have made a shock decision to reject plans for a controversial biomass energy plant in Avonmouth.

The plant, at Chittening Industrial Estate, was planned to process 60,000 tonnes of waste wood a year to create a natural gas, which would then be burned to generate electricity.

The 11MW output of the station, built by a combination of firms including Balfour Beatty, Nexterra and Atkins, would have been enough to power 15,000 homes.

But vocal protests from arrests who feared increased air pollution from the plant, which initially forced Bristol City Council officers to give decision-making powers over the application to councillors last night forced the development control committee to throw out the plans.

Councillors voted five against, two in favour and one abstention at City Hall, which brought cheers from the protesters who had gathered at City Hall before the meeting to make their voices heard.
But according to a leading protester this will not be the end of the story, with an appeal from the proponents of the scheme likely.

One of the two councillors to vote in favour of the plant, Cllr Mark Wright, said he understood the fears of residents in Avonmouth, but said the new technology proposed for the plant was "way better" than older technology used in the past.

Meanwhile, he said fears over the cancer-causing effect of wood dust, levels of which campaigners warned would rise, were overstated, adding: "Wood dust is carcinogenic but it is not in the same league as asbestos, which has been quoted by campaigners. It is a proven carcinogen but so has bacon," he said to imply the risks from wood dust and bacon were the same.

Simon Mead, from Nexterra, said the technology to be used in the plant had been proved in urban areas such as Vancouver in Canada with no impact on air quality.

"This is a clean, proven technology operating under stringent environmental conditions," he said.
Paul Barker, from Balfour Beatty, added the process of using wood waste was a "sustainable way to power 15,000 homes a year".

He said the plant would help to reduce dust emissions and traffic movements, as waste wood is transported to the port at Avonmouth for export.

"It will recover the energy lost to export, aligns with local and national policy, and will be a welcome boost to the local economy," he said.

Some 30 protesters though gathered outside City Hall before the planning meeting and inside the meeting a succession of people spoke out against the application.

Labour parliamentary candidate for Bristol North West Darren Jones said Bristol had a big role to play as European Green Capital next year to "show the world we take our environment seriously".
He added: "Councillors have a chance tonight to stand up for residents in forgotten communities."
Campaigner Ian Robinson said air quality in Avonmouth was "pathetically crap" already and urged the committee to either defer the decision for a year to gather real data on the level of pollution in the area, or reject the plan altogether.

Councillors such as committee chair Alex Woodman questioned whether the plant owners would stick to their pledge to only use waste wood, rather than imported 'virgin' wood, as fuel.

Meanwhile, Cllr Martin Fodor tried to manoeuvre a deferral of the scheme in order to get more information about how similar plants operate in other parts of the world, and their impact on the local environment.

But in a final vote on whether to reject the scheme outright, councillors voted five in favour of rejecting the scheme, two against with one abstention.

Speaking after the vote, Jones said: "I am glad to see the decision to reject was led by Labour councillors. The debate was long but has made me feel even more justified in opposing it.

With similar 'green' energy plant planning applications in Bristol having been rejected by councillors but overturned by the government in recent years, Jones added: "I suspect this is not the end of the matter though."

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Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass.

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