This weeks Leith biomass roundup

Half way through the window for public consultation on the Forth Energy biomass plant, there are so many things to report that this post has become a bit of a round-up.

As we posted previously, one Edinburgh resident who opposes the plant put together a Google Earth mock-up of the plant, based on the dimensions, and the graphics provided by Forth Energy in their planning application. The idea being that anyone with access to the program could see how the plant would look from anywhere – even space. A few locals then used this to come up with their own user generated images.

This week, the Google Earth file has been used in a new way. A supporter of the No Leith Biomass campaign has produced this ‘fly-through’ using Google Earth, and added some captions to provide people with more information on the plant. You can view it below:

Meanwhile, I followed up one of the points made by at last weeks Leith Biomass public meeting, over how the plant would be connected to the grid – and the possible travel disruption this could cause. You can read the response from local business groups and Forth Energy on the North Edinburgh STV website.

A day later, a three person team of senior staff from Forth Energy were said to be sent home ‘with their tails between their legs’ from a meeting at the Mal Maison hotel after strong criticism from members of the Friends of the Water of Leith Basin group.

The No Leith Biomass campaign, who say that ‘hundreds’ of objections have already been sent to the Scottish Government, has also produced a campaign Twibbon. Meanwhile more and more people continue to use the #leithbiomass hashtag on Twitter to share campaign updates and information and nearly 800 people have signed the online petition.

In the last couple of weeks, the political mood has continued to shift against the proposals too. The Edinburgh Green Party has voted to oppose the plant, The Leith branch of the SNP has voted to oppose the plant and Shiela Gilmore MP had this to say on her blog, after joining her Labour colleague Malcolm Chisholm MSP at the No Leith Biomass demonstration last week: 

‘The plans just don’t add up; at a meeting last week, residents were shushed when organisers tried to claim the greater efficiencies would come thanks to the municipal heating system. This municipal heating system is at present an idea that will only be developed when consent is granted, so, efficiency of this green ‘renewable’ plant will be around 30-40%, similar to existing electricity plants.

‘Further still, in 40 years time, when Forth Ports have finished regenerating the area, the plant area will be again be redeveloped, without a plant to supply a municipal heating system!’

‘We need to reduce carbon emissions and use the resources that we have in Scotland. Sourcing the wood chippings from around the world is not green, nor is ferrying waste and ash through the already clogged roads in Edinburgh East.’

‘I’m with the campaigners on this one; the plant is too big, in the wrong place, and it is not green.’

The No Leith Biomass group plan to take the campaign to Holyrood next. There will be a demonstration on Thursday the 24th of February. If you want to go, meet at 12 as the demo is planned to run for an hour 12.30 – 1.30pm.

You can find out more about the No Leith Biomass campaign at www.noleithbiomass.org.uk

  • Porty lad

    I've had a look around your website and am i right in saying the only real issue is the location of the plant?

    I should make clear i am an energy journalist with no specific interest in biomass. I've studied and looked closely at all the renewable options out there.

    Firstly I see lots of complaining but i don't hear any comments about an alternative energy source? Levels of fossil fuels are falling and the world needs to reduce its carbon footprint. Do people want more coal plants? We have already maximized our wind energy and the past year has proved this isn't a reliable source of energy and very unpredictable. The Scandinavians have been burning biomass for more than a decade. There is no danger to the surrounding area from burning the wood. There is a standard specification of wood used by energy companies that has low ash and has a proven track record. And while there may be some emissions from shipping the wood, companies are building greener ships to transport it as we speak, so that is not a major issue. Plus it is still a much improved, cleaner form of energy than coal and gas. So if people want to keep enjoying their luxuries then some sacrifice needs to be made along the way. Biomass is carbon neutral. Trees soak up co2 and then release it back into the atmosphere. People create plantations specifically to grow trees to use for biomass. When they are cut down, the cycle starts again with the trees replanted. Also a lot of wood still goes to landfill in the UK. This is a waste of a good energy source. A blot on the landscape may be one issue to address, but people need to do their homework about biomass before jumping on the bandwagon. The energy landscape is changing and decisions need to be made. Wind only goes so far, lack of sunshine in the UK makes solar a problem, so biomass is the best solution. So by all means complain it may be a blot of the Leith landscape but don't confuse the issue. Biomass is recognised at EU level. Norway, Denmark and Sweden have used it for decades. It's safe and proven technology.

    I hope you have the decency to post this comment.

  • Ally Tibbitt

    Hi Porty Lad,

    This seems to be a very similar comment to the one posted by "Edinburgh Lad" on the Guardian Edinburgh blog here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/9713068

    Whilst different people are concerned about different aspects of the proposal, I think it's fair to say that no, for most people the location is not the only issue.

    You can find our detailed independent assessment of the Forth Energy proposals here:

    http://www.greenerleith.org/forth-energy-fact-myth-leith/

    I'm also a journalist with and a post-grad degree in Renewable Energy and I'm not convinced! In Scotland, the choice is not between coal plants or biomass, as I think we've established.

    In Scandinavia they use the heat produced by burning biomass, and most of the plants are much smaller in scale. In our view there is very little guarantee that the proposals by Forth Energy for Leith will operate with anything like the same low environmental impact.