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Evening Telegraph: Benefits of biomass to Dundee’s waterfront?

24/06/2013
By MICHAEL OWENS19 June 2013 11.00am.

The biomass plant planned for Dundee’s waterfront has divided opinion in the city.

 

The renewable energy project has attracted nearly 2,000 complaints with fears over a number of points including pollution, local transport and noise.

After Dundee City Council released a report addressing concerns, the Evening Telegraph takes a look at the key issues surrounding the plans.

 

Transport

During the three-year construction there will be 43 heavy-goods vehicles and 23 large-goods vehicles visiting the site each day.

There will be a workforce of up to 500 with 80% travelling by private car.

To deal with an increase of emissions, Dundee City Council has asked for the plant to use low-emission vehicles, and also provide electric-vehicle charging points for staff to use.

They have also included a condition to make changes to the road layout at the Stannergate roundabout in order to minimise the impact of road traffic on air quality.

 

Noise

According to the reports, measures have been put in place to try and combat excessive noise for residential properties, including where the plant is placed.

The buildings themselves have also been designed to screen noise.

During construction, the estimates put the noise at the west entrance to Camperdown Dock — the nearest site — at 65 decibels.

The noise at the site will be monitored by SEPA, who can change the limits at any time. Any other issues with excessive noise could be dealt with by law.

 

Public Safety

When completed, emissions will come from two stacks on the plant as well as road traffic and shipping.

There will also be emissions from handling and storing biomass materials, and dust from the construction and decommissioning at the site.

According to the council Forth Energy say that, at worst, roughly 12,748 people will experience a small increase in nitrogen dioxide.

City development director Mike Galloway said: “In this instance the impact of the proposal is not deemed to be sufficient to warrant an objection on local air quality grounds. However, there will be an impact on air quality and the local authority’s objective of improving air quality in the area.”

NHS Tayside said the report did not address all of its concerns and said that evidence showed pollution could affect vulnerable people even if less than the legal limits.

The health board called for assurances from Scottish ministers that levels would be reviewed and that there would be a community liaison group throughout the life of the plant.

Dundee’s West End Community Council described the development as “inefficient, environmentally detrimental and wasteful of resources”.

 

Nature Conservation

The Forth Energy report said: “The application site is located within the industrial port of Dundee and features no habitat of nature conservation interest likely to provide an important habitat for protected and notable species.”

It also argues the impact of water used for cooling the plant into the Tay will have no significant impact on wildlife.

They plan to have screens at the point where the cooling water comes into the river to protect the fish and will mix it quickly with river water. Marine Scotland said they felt those measures would minimise the impact.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency called for further assessment to make sure there would not be a significant effect on Barry Links.

 

Economy

Forth Energy estimates the construction of the plant will boost the local economy by £7.3m.

Once built, it is expected to cost Forth Energy £18m each year to run, which will total £450m in the 25 years it is planned to operate for.

They say that, when operating, the plant will lead to 139 full-time jobs locally, both directly and indirectly.

But the Scottish Government Onshore Renewables Team said that there are no details of how to maximise benefits for the community.

Its response said: “Scottish Ministers are particularly keen to see wider benefits for communities from renewable energy schemes such as this.

“Unfortunately, no mention of this could be found and we would ask that Forth Energy outlines what they propose to do in order to maximise the benefits for the local community.”

 

Energy

The plant will burn through one million tonnes of biomass each year, made up mainly of wood chips, pellets or cakes.

The fuel, which is supposed to be environmentally sustainable, will mainly be delivered to the site via the Tay, with 85% of the biomass coming by ship.

Burning of the fuel will then drive the turbine in the plant, generating electricity. Forth Energy say they will also be able to use the heat generated to provide heating for industrial buildings nearby.

The main chimney stack will be nearly 300ft, while the boiler hall will be just over 213ft.

It is estimated there will be 12,000 tonnes of ash produced each year, which Forth Energy say they will try to recycle.