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Southampton biomass plant plan to be revised

Published on the BBC News Website 26th April 2011

The developer planning to build a £300m biomass power station in Southampton has announced it will amend its plans and hold a second public consultation.

Helius Energy wants to build the 100 megawatt wood-fired plant at the city’s Western Docks.

The firm has said fuel would be “sustainably sourced” and the impact on air quality would be “negligible”.

But campaigners against the plan say the plant would be “visually intrusive” and increase transport congestion.

A first consultation closed on Thursday when the No Southampton Biomass group handed 150 objection letters and a 3,602-signature petition to Helius and the city council.

Helius said in a statement: “An initial review of public comments shows the main issues raised to be the location and scale of the plant, the sustainability of the project and the effect of the scheme on local air quality, noise levels and traffic movements.

“In response to the public feedback received, Helius has commenced a review of the siting, form and external appearance of the scheme.

“Helius will also review and update air quality, noise and traffic assessments.”

Less carbon

Residents in the nearby Freemantle and Millbrook areas have held protests against the plant which would have a 100m (330ft) chimney and be located 125m (410ft) from homes.

No Southampton Biomass has challenged claims of biomass being low-carbon energy and says the air quality in the city would fall.

Helius Energy claims it will generate enough power for 200,000 homes.

Most of the wood to be burnt in the power station would be shipped from Europe, the Americas or Scotland.

The firm said the plant would produce 720,000 tonnes less carbon each year than a similar sized coal-fired station.

It said there would be no more than four lorry deliveries an hour which would not travel through residential areas.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England, has dubbed the plan a “nightmare”.

Leaders at Conservative-run Southampton City Council have also spoken out against the scheme and Dr Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, said the location and size made the proposals “unworkable”.

The firm plans to hold a second public consultation during the summer before submitting the application to the government’s Infrastructure Planning Commission later this year.

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