Biomass developers ask for another six-month delay

An artist's impression of the biomass plant

An artist's impression of the biomass plant

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a £360 million biomass plant in Leith have been pushed back until next summer, prompting anger from opposition groups and councillors that the process will continue to drag on.

City planners were due to consider the application for the site at Imperial Docks next month, however, developers Forth Energy asked for another six-month delay.

The plant could create between 500 and 700 jobs during construction and sustain around 60 once completed.

However, more than 1800 members of the public have lodged objections, along with local politicians and Scottish Natural Heritage, who argue the plant is too large and must be scaled down.

Ultimately, the Scottish Government will decide whether the development goes ahead, however, if the council objects, the planning application will go to a year-long public inquiry.

The plans will now be considered after the local government elections in May.

Forth Energy is also trying to build biomass plants in Rosyth, Dundee and Grangemouth, with the latter undergoing a public inquiry.

Leith councillor Rob Munn said: “I think they are stalling until the outcome of the Grangemouth public inquiry, which they believe will somehow also address the concerns of the people of Leith, but I can hardly see them settling for that.”

Leith Links Community Council chair Jim Scanlon said: “We were expecting it to go to planning in December but Forth Energy have not responded to Scottish Natural Heritage’s concerns. We could have had those plans up in front of the council for a decision.”

It is anticipated the facility will be able to provide renewable energy for 54 per cent of the Capital’s electricity needs.

But most of the fuel – in the form of wood chip – will come from forests in North America, which has led to criticism from environmental groups.

Calum Wilson, managing director of Forth Energy, said: “We will continue to work with Scottish Natural Heritage and other stakeholders to see a solution to concerns about the visual impact of our proposed plant. We remain fully committed to bringing reliable, responsible, renewable energy to Leith.”

If given the go-ahead, the facility could be up and running by the end of 2015.