Opposition building to proposed Biomass Power Plant in Millbrook

Posted on March 11, 2011 by

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Public opposition is ramping up against a proposed Biomass Power Plant in Millbrook, with local residents concerned that the development will dominate their neighbourhood and increase air pollution in the heavily populated area.

The company behind the scheme, Helius Energy, says that the plant will create many jobs for the still recession-hit docks whilst helping the UK meet renewable energy targets, but local people seem unconvinced that these outweigh the disadvantages.

Local environmental campaigners are also concerned that the nature of the biomass plant makes the ‘green’ development not very green at all, with woodchip being imported from potentially dodgy places around the world to feed it.

No to Southampton Biomass – a campaign group set up by local residents – have said they oppose the scheme because of “the sheer scale and size with neighbouring homes only over the road; Air quality – emissions – dust – pollution – allergic reactions; Noise & Vibration – both during operation & construction; Storage of hazardous chemicals; Increase in traffic.”

An extra bit of scenery for Millbrook?

An extra bit of scenery for Millbrook? (The white buildings in the foreground represent existing housing)

The proposed power station will stand up to 300 ft high only 100m from the nearest houses, sparking worries that Millbrook will come to be dominated by the development.  The site also falls within a designated smoke-free zone and Air Quality Management Area, despite the plant’s emissions being very likely to increase air pollution.

The company claims that it will source woodchip from Europe and North America where environmental controls are higher.  However, for some of its other operations woodchip is sourced from less regulated West Africa, and many similar plants have ended up sourcing wood from environmentally damaging monoculture plantations in tropical countries despite claims of decent sourcing in their planning applications.

Chris Bluemel, a local Green Party candidate in the upcoming elections, told The Blowhole that:

The plant is an environmental disaster in the making.  It is likely to discharge warm water in the Test estuary and release air pollution to an already polluted area. In addition, it’s feedstock of 800,000 tonnes of imported woodchip a year will is completely unsustainable, and will result in forest destruction abroad and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Campaigners are encouraging people to attend the next public exhibition of the plans to voice any concerns they may have, which are will be at the Thompson Memorial Hall, Testwood Rd, Freemantle on 21st & 22nd March 2pm – 7.30pm.

They’re also encouraging people to take part in the public consultation by going to http://www.southamptonbiomasspower.com/ or writing to them at – Helius Energy Plc, 242 Marylebone Rd, London, NW1 6JL stating your concerns by April 21st, and to write to the City Council too (http//www.southampton.gov.uk/s-environment/planning/biomass.aspx; write: Planning & Sustainability, Southampton City Council, Civic Centre, Southampton, SO14 7LS; email: planning@southampton.gov.uk; phone: 023 8083 3006).

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Posted in: News, Southampton