If you take a look at the Forth Energy website, there’s nothing on it to indicate that their plans for a giant power plant that they propose to build on Leith Docks have been put on the back burner.
Indeed, the firm has been busy of late, churning out glossy PR brochures for the other biomass plants they propose in other parts of Scotland called things like, ahem, “Greener Grangemouth.” The brochures contain the same virtually meaningless pledges on fuel sources and questionable carbon savings claims that their planning applications do.
The only change now is that they’ve got some titles that imply in some way that they’re part of an environmental organisation. Although imitation is the greatest form of flattery, as you can imagine, we’ve had some of Scotland’s finest legal minds poised to sue for trademark infringement the moment Forth Energy publish their equivalent, “Greener Leith,” newsletter for weeks. But for some reason it hasn’t happened.
Recently, local MSP Malcolm Chisholm shed some light on the apparent delay at a Leith Links Community Council meeting. He said he’d managed to meet with Charles Hammond, head of Forth Ports and he confirmed that the Leith Biomass plant will be the last to be pursued by Forth Energy (Forth energy is part owned by Forth Ports).
Not only that, Mr Hammond apparently told Malcolm Chisholm that the council will not now consider the planning application in December as we’d previously be led to believe, but “later.” Given that every single candidate in the recent City Centre by-election said that they’d vote against the Leith biomass plant proposals, it’s probably an astute move on their part to push consideration of the proposal beyond May – as they may be hoping to avoid the proposal becoming a political issue in the next Scottish Local elections.
Judging by the way the politics is playing out, this would seem unlikely. We’ve already seen that the Leith Biomass plant remains a critical local issue, in large part due to the sterling efforts of the No Leith Biomass campaigners. But it’s not just a local issue – the questionable environmental wisdom of burning lots of imported timber just to generate electricity is rising up both the policy and political agendas throughout the UK.
Recently, the independent statutory body set up by the UK government to advise Westminster and the devolved administrations on climate change issues, The Committee on Climate Change, released a report that was pretty skeptical of using biomass for power generation in the way that Forth Energy proposes to do.
You can read their whole report below:
This report, suggests that biomass should not be used for power generation without being fitted with Carbon Capture and Storage technology (which currently doesn’t exist) and is probably not a good use of scarce global biomass resources.
This report has not gone unnoticed in Scotland. SNP MSP for the Falkirk area, Angus MacDonald (“Greener Grangemouth” is in his constituency) has submitted this motion in the Holyrood parliament:
Motion S4M-00748 – Angus MacDonald ( Falkirk East ) ( Scottish National Party ) : UK Committee on Climate Change Comments on Biomass
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.
That motion is interesting as it explicitly calls on the Scottish Government proposals to deny Forth Energy consent for all four of their proposed large biomass plants.
Another recent motion at Holyrood may also be of interest too. Several Edinburgh MSP’s have backed this one, which gives support to a planned protest march against the Biomass proposals later this month.
Motion S4M-00616 – Jim Eadie ( Edinburgh Southern ) ( Scottish National Party ) : Moving Planet March
That the Parliament supports the Moving Planet march and rally on Saturday 24 September 2011, called by the international non-governmental organisation, 350.org, to mark the Global Day of Climate Action; notes that 350.org calls for a sustainable energy future for the world at 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is what many scientists consider to be the safe upper limit; notes that the event will coincide with the world car-free day and that it will aim to put pressure on global leaders to commit to reducing CO2 levels in advance of the UN Climate Summit in Durban, South Africa, in November 2011, and welcomes the parallel aim of this event, to draw attention to opposition to the proposed Forth Energy biomass plant at Leith Docks.
Despite all this Forth Energy insist the Leith Biomass plan is still on the table. If you wish to support the campaigners who are trying to put the Leith Biomass plan in the long grass permanently, and you were wondering what else you can do now that you’ve put in your objection to the Leith Biomass plant, you can do these two things:
1. Use www.writetothem.com and urge your all your local MSP’s – especially your list MSP’s – to support both of these motions. Malcolm Chisholm, constituency MSP for Leith, has signed both, but there are still some list MSPs who have not.
2. Take part in the planned protest event on the 24th of September. You can find out more about the event here.