Forth Energy send Leith Biomass plan up in smoke. Finally.

Leith Against Biomass Plant Campaign
The first blog post we wrote about the Forth Energy power plant plan on Leith Docks was in January 2010.

Since then, there have been nearly sixty more blog posts, five consultation responses, protests, stalls, public meetings and petitions.

After all this, and some two years later, it has come as a welcome surprise to learn that Forth Energy have finally seens sense and abandoned their proposed Leith Biomass plan.

You can read the full press statement that was released by the firm here.

Now we can only speculate at the real reasons behind the company’s decision to abandon the project.

  • Was it because it was the most unpopular project in Edinburgh’s planning history?
  • Was it because they realised they wouldn’t be able to overcome the objections from the statutory consultees like Scottish Natural Heritage?
  • Was it because the subsidies are getting pulled left right and centre?
  • Did they blink first in the back room negotiations between themselves, Scottish Enterprise and the City of Edinburgh Council over the future of the site?
  • Are they about to announce a big wind turbine manufacturing deal on the docks which is more lucrative?
  • Or is it just a clever move from a firm used to playing ‘subsidy tetris’ with its land holdings?

The reality is, it’s probably a little bit of all those things.

Over the months that we’ve been following, and campaigning against, this proposal, it’s been amazing to see civic Leith join forces in opposition against the plan.

The numbers of local people, especially in the No Leith Biomass campaign group, who have put in hours and hours of time to digest tedious, and very technical, planning documents has been remarkable.

Not to mention the effort that went into producing leaflets, manning stalls, protests, lobbying, producing mock up images, and so on.

The politicians who backed residents also deserve a thanks. It was heartening to see that politicians from across the political spectrum could work together to oppose the plans.

Indeed we’ve lost track of the number of Holyrood motions that have been lodged, and parliamentary questions that have been asked, urging the Scottish Government to reject the project.

There is even another Holyrood motion that has been lodged today, by the Greens.

Locals also received support from city-wide and national organisations too, like Friends of the Earth and Biofuelwatch. The Cockburn Association put in a particularly well worded objection to the proposal.

All of the people involved will be glad to see their hard work has paid off. And indeed a celebratory drink is certainly in order.

And it would appear that some people have learned so much about the real environmental impact of the Forth Energy proposals that they may well continue to support campaigners in Rosyth, Dundee and Grangemouth where the firms big biomass plans are still very much alive.

Just as importantly, many local businesses in Leith who depend on tourism and attracting visitors from elsewhere in the city will be hugely relieved that one cloud on their horizon has been removed.

However, it’s clear that Forth Ports might come back with a new plan.

If they do, we hope they’ll have listened to some of the things we said about How Forth Energy Could Win Friends and Influence Leithers.

Greener Leith has always said that if they work with local residents to support the development of a really decentralised, community owned, low carbon district heating network, then they might get somewhere.

And you might say it’ll never happen in Leith. But the council is already moving ahead and installing a shared heating system in Cables Wynd House this year at a cost of more than £2million.

This will lower the heating bills, and the carbon footprint, of 200 households in Leith.

Could that development be the first in a series of ‘heat islands’ that might one day form the basis of a genuinely decentralised heating network in Leith?

Only time will tell.