Biomass plans on the back burner until 2012

Zoe van den Driesche makes her feelings on the Leith Biomass plant known as protestors gather outside the Scottish Parliament.
Zoe van den Driesche makes her feelings on the Leith Biomass plant known as protestors gather outside the Scottish Parliament.
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plans for a biomass boiler in Leith are unlikely to be submitted to the Scottish Government until next year, it has been revealed, but campaigners have vowed not to ease the pressure.

The controversial proposal from Forth Energy now looks likely to be the last of its four planned biomass plants to be put forward for approval, with Rosyth, Grangemouth and Dundee going first.

The firm has submitted an initial application to the Scottish Government, but after receiving more than 1000 objections is considering how to revise its plans before a final submission.

It is thought that it may also be awaiting the decision of Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing on its plans for Rosyth, for which an application has already been lodged.

Forth Energy is a joint venture between Forth Ports and Scottish and Southern Energy.

Forth Ports chief executive Charles Hammond has met with local politicians to tell them that the Leith plan is now at the back of the queue.

Malcolm Chisholm, MSP, said: “He told me that they wanted to have more dialogue with the local community, they realise that there’s a lot of opposition to it, and that it would be the last of their four proposals to be progressed – and it won’t now be going to the government in December as originally planned.

“I don’t think it will change anything very much with regard to public opinion, the vast majority oppose it.”

Leith councillor Gordon Munro also met with Fort Ports to discuss the development of the area, and said he understood the company was still trying to deal with the huge number of objections.

He said: “They’re trying to separate what they deem to be the serious objections from those – in their view – less pertinent to the actual application that will be submitted.

“I met with them last week and they’re going to deal with the Dundee, Fife and Grangemouth ones and then deal with the Leith one.

“I think they’re waiting to see what kind of appetite the Scottish Government have for the other applications first.

“I think [the revised application] is going to be a revision of both the scale and massing, but I don’t think there’s going to be any change in respect of how it will operate. I don’t think there will be any change in the level of opposition.”

Charlotte Encombe of campaign group Greener Leith, which highlighted the delay on its blog, said the group would not relax its campaigning.

She said: “We can’t just think ‘they’ll probably go away’. Until they can show us that it’s a sustainable way of using biomass – and so far we’re not convinced – we’re of the opinion that it’s not something that will be good for Leith.”

A spokeswoman for the city council said that, as a statutory consultee, it would submit feedback on the application by December 11.

Forth Energy says the facility will provide renewable energy for 54 per cent of the Capital’s electricity needs, but environmental groups say it is unacceptable because most of the fuel will be brought in as wood chip from North America.

A spokeswoman for Forth Energy said: “Forth Energy remains committed to bringing low carbon, wood-fuelled heat and electricity to Leith. We are in discussions with the relevant organisations as we continue the consenting process.

“We believe that our proposals represent a secure and stable low carbon source of heat and electricity that will help to create jobs, boost the economy and provide heat both for industrial use and for homes.”