SNP MSP Angus MacDonald Calls on Scottish Ministers to Reject Massive 100MW Forth Energy Biomass Plant in Grangemouth

SNP MSP for Falkirk East Angus MacDonald has this week lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling on Scottish Ministers to reject an application by Forth Energy to build a massive 100 MW biomass energy plant in Grangemouth.

Angus, who was previously a member of Falkirk Council’s Planning Committee prior to the Scottish Parliament election successfully moved that Falkirk Council, who were consulted on the proposal, should object to the application, however the final decision rests with Scottish Government Ministers.

The motion lodged in the Scottish Parliament reads:

 SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

MOTION

Date of Lodging: 29 August 2011

Short Title: UK Committee on Climate Change Comments on Biomass

S4M-00748 Angus MacDonald () (Scottish National Party): That the Parliament notes the recent publication by the influential UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) of its review of the potential for renewable energy development; in particular notes its comments on biomass, including its preliminary conclusion that "without CCS (carbon capture and storage), biomass would probably be of more value when used outside the power sector"; considers that this conclusion runs counter to Forth Energy's large-scale biomass proposals in Grangemouth, Rosyth, Dundee and Leith; welcomes the Scottish Government's preference for biomass to be deployed in heat-only or combined heat and power schemes, generally prioritised in off gas-grid areas, at a scale appropriate to make best use of both the available heat and local supply; looks forward to the CCC's more detailed assessment of biomass later in 2011, and calls on Scottish ministers to reject Forth Energy's proposals that require ministerial consent.

Speaking this week, Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said: “This motion sends a message ‘loud and clear’ to Scottish Ministers that the people of Grangemouth do not want a monstrous 100 megawatt Biomass Energy Plant on their doorstep.

“There is no doubt that renewable energy does have a role to play in providing for Falkirk District’s future energy needs however I have concerns that this is the wrong scheme in the wrong location. There are strong critics of the proposals who are in the majority, and of course there are its supporters.

“I know that this application is to be determined by Scottish Ministers, however I also know that Scottish Ministers would much prefer to see small to medium-sized bio-mass plants utilised mainly for heat-only or for combined heat and power plants, but certainly not a biomass plant on the scale proposed for Grangemouth.

“I have a number of concerns regarding this application, not least the proximity of the plant to housing and a large retail outlet.
 “Scotland simply does not have the capacity to supply a bio-mass energy plant of this size. Forth Energy have admitted that the wood is to be imported from North and South America, the Baltic states and Russia – hardly locally sourced. This is as far from locally sustainable as you can get.

“This development could threaten the viability of other local firms which also rely on timber, such as Verdo Renewables in Grangemouth and the Norbord plant at Cowie. To avoid creating excessive demand for the core material the UK Government must review its ‘Renewable Obligation Subsidy’ which incentivises bio-mass plants to burn the same wood that was previously available to other local industries. This subsidy effectively allows biomass energy companies to pay more than double the price other firms pay, which in turn puts these other wood-reliant industries at risk.
 

“I am also concerned that air quality in Grangemouth may worsen if the plant gets the go-ahead. In addition, experts say the plant could take 30 to 40 years to become carbon neutral. 

“Furthermore, a great deal is being made by Forth Energy of their plan to distribute heat to local users, which is one of their main selling points in their pitch to Government, however I know for a fact that provisional talks with major commercial operators in Grangemouth have come to nothing to date, therefore a main plank of the application is based on a false assumption and is therefore fundamentally flawed.

“To put it simply, there are far too many arguments against this application -  it is not ‘renewable energy’ if the energy plant is not adjacent or very close to the fuel source. In this case, the main fuel source is on the other side of the Atlantic. Even Friends of the Earth are opposed to this crazy plan. 

“This application should be rejected outright when it arrives on Scottish Minister’s desks and I will do all in my power to raise these concerns to Ministers between now and the final decision being made.”

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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