10 Facts Forth Energy won’t tell you about their giant power plant plan


A detailed planning application has finally been submitted by Forth Energy for a giant power plant on Leith Docks. As this image from the planning application shows, it will tower over the Shore area.

A 28 days public consultation period will now begin where members of the public can submit their objections to the Scottish Government, who will decide on whether the proposals will go ahead.

You can find all the documentation here:


There is a huge amount of information to digest, and 28 days seems a very short amount of time. It will come as no surprise that we are in the process of penning our own detailed objection letter. Similarly, the No Leith Biomass campaign team are also preparing their response and will provide a draft letter of objection that you can use very shortly.

In the meantime, we note that there was considerable local frustration expressed at last nights Leith Links Community Council meeting, that the only information that is available to members of the public in public libraries and at the forth coming biomass meeting at Drummond High School will be provided by Forth Energy. We understand, for example, that during the last round of exhibitions that Forth Energy held, leaflets produced by the No Leith Biomass campaign were removed from libraries for being ‘political’.

Given the millions of pounds of public subsidy at stake, there is a considerable incentive for Forth Energy to ‘sex up’ their planning application. Their application still contains some information that is at best “unhelpful”, and research that is based on extremely optimisitic assumptions. Information that they have not ammended even when requested by the City of Edinburgh council.

In an effort to provide an independent view of the application, we’ve produced a short print out fact sheet. You can read it below or download it as a pdf by clicking here. You might want to take it with you to any biomass public meeting. You can judge these facts for yourself by having a look at our “Forth Energy, Fact and Myths” page, as we’ve provided links to all our sources. We’ve consulted as many people as we can on the information on that page, including an international network of academics, and trust it be reliable.

If you do not believe that the Forth Energy plant should get the go ahead, you can email your objections, stating clearly why you object, to:

The Scottish Government, Energy Consents and Deployment Unit, 4th Floor, 5 Atlantic Quay, 150 Broomielaw, GLASGOW G2 8LU

Or by email to: [email protected]

If you have never objected to a planning application before, the No Leith Biomass campaign team are putting together a template one as we write. 

10 facts Forth Energy won’t tell you about their giant power plant plan.

For all the facts see: http://www.greenerleith.org/forth-energy-fact-myth-leith/

FACT: There is no need to build a giant power station in Leith.

Scotland is beating its renewable energy generation targets already. Independent research by the largest renewable energy consultancy in the world confirms that by 2020, Scottish renewable power generation will exceed domestic demand regardless of whether the Forth Energy plant is built or not. Scottish Government energy generation forecasts confirm that Scotland will not need any large thermal power plants in the coming decades.

FACT: Air pollution already causes 1000 extra GP admissions in Edinburgh every year. This plant will make the problem worse.

If there is no need to build a power station in the middle of a densely populated area, why do it? The emissions from the plant and the traffic associated with it will add to the existing problem of urban air pollution and make it harder to improve local peoples health. All those GP visits caused by air pollution costs money that is paid for by tax payers. Local tax payers must also pay any EU fines incurred if air quality standards cannot be met. New development should help solve this problem. Not add to it.

FACT: The giant Leith Power Station will deter regeneration and investment in the area.

According to Forth Ports, the existing regeneration plans for the docks would generate £194million GVA for the Edinburgh economy and 7500 net addition jobs for Scotland. In contrast the biomass plant will provide around 70 permanent jobs. Why should Leithers,  Edinburgh, and Scotland as a whole give up on the original, mixed use, vision for the docks for a plan that could see Forth Energy shareholders the main beneficiaries of at least £1billion worth of public ‘energy’ subsidy over 20 years?

FACT: The giant Leith Power Station will hinder national efforts to tackle climate change.

Forth Energy have made no serious attempt to engage with the latest science on biomass.  Over the operating lifetime of the plant, it is likely that carbon emissions will be greater than an equivalent sized coal plant. Because it will operate so inefficiently, there is a good chance that the proposed giant Leith Power Plant will take more than a 100 years to deliver any carbon savings – even compared to a coal fired plant. The science of climate change says we need carbons savings now – and that’s why Scottish Government legislation requires an 80% carbon cut by 2050.

FACT: The giant Leith Power Station will waste most of the energy it generates.

Forth Energy estimate that it will cost £1million per kilometre to build a heat network, and they say no heat network will be built unless it is ‘commercially feasible.’ Most of the heat this plant will generate will therefore be dumped in the sea. It will primarily generate electricity for export to the national grid – and that is best generated using cleaner, more efficient technology – see Fact 1. Forth Energy have admitted at a local community council meeting that they will not build any local heat network without getting even more public subsidy.

FACT: The giant Leith Power Station is not supported by any planning or energy polices.

National planning policies, national energy policies, and local planning policies do not support a giant inefficient power station, like the one proposed by Forth Energy, on this site.

FACT: The giant Leith Power Station “certainly will not be attractive.”

These were the words of Calum Wilson, the Managing Director of Forth Energy according to a press article in 2010. It will be visible from many popular tourist attractions – including the Castle and Calton hill in the Edinburgh World Heritage Site. Forth Energy say it will have no negative economic impact on the surrounding area. Is that tenable?

FACT: There is nothing stopping Forth Energy burning wood from tropical forests.

Forth Energy say they will only source wood fuel ‘sustainable sources’ from Europe or the Americas. To date, no planning condition has ever been placed on a biomass plant developer that specifies where the fuel must come from. In other UK biomass developments, as soon as permission was granted, the developer signed contracts with timber companies supplying wood from ‘energy crop’ plantations grown on land converted from high conservation value tropical forests.

FACT: Forth Ports already has planning permission for two much smaller ‘energy centres’ near Ocean Terminal.

All the heating needs of any new development that is likely to be built in the short – medium term on the docks could be supplied efficiently from the energy centres that Forth Ports already has permission to build.

FACT: The environmental claims for the giant power station that are made by Forth Energy are not based on truly independent research.

All the key ‘green claims’ made by Forth Energy are based on research by SISTECH that they funded directly. We do not consider that a research project that is fully funded by the beneficiaries, that has not been peer reviewed, and where the results and methodology are not published in full, is in any sense “independent.”  Greener Leith has called for the withdrawal of all public subsidies for large, electricity only power plants – until truly independent research has identified the actual environmental impact of these plants. The Scottish Government has heeded our call, and is currently conducting a review into the public subsidy regime for large biomass plants like the one proposed for Leith.

  • http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk Robert Palgrave

    Very good briefing!

    Just a couple of additional comments:

    1. "hindering efforts to tackle climate change. " You compare with a reduction target of 80% by 2050. It's actually worse than that. The power sector is expected to reduce emissions far faster – as it is the one area where it is possible to switch to cleaner technology in relatively quick time. The Committee on Climate Change has advised HMG that it should be aiming at a near 80% reduction in grid intensity (the amount of carbon per unit of electricity) by 2030, not 2050.

    2. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency has been critical of Forth Energy's plans at Rosyth


    saying that the environmental impacts have not been fully explored, and expressing doubts about the supply of woodchips.