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Southern Daily Echo: Helius vows to power on with biomass scheme for Southampton


THE firm behind Southampton’s controversial biomass plant has vowed to plough on with its plans, despite suffering a major setback.

Helius says it intends to hand in an application to the Government “in due course” and has no plans to scrap its proposals for the £300 million plant in the city’s docks.

The energy firm’s announcement comes after city councillors from all parties pledged not to buy energy produced at the proposed 100MW, wood-fuelled plant.

The move was designed to deal a blow to Helius’ plans by robbing them of a potential partner, and making it harder to gain Government funding by identifying a large customer base.

Council chiefs urged Government ministers to use their powers to axe the plans, while the leaders of the council’s Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour Councillors Against the Cuts groups will now write to Helius to reaffirm the authority’s opposition to the scheme.

But the company has reiterated its plans to hand in an application for a development consent order, which would give the project the green light, to energy secretary Ed Davey.

But after saying in March that an application would be handed in this summer, the firm has refused to disclose exactly when it will now do so.

A spokesman for the company said: “The plant would generate sufficient electricity to power 200,000 homes.

“This is enough to provide the Southampton population and local commercial development with renewable electricity while saving 470,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year compared to fossil fuels.

“The council is one of a number of potential customers for this heat which could help meet targets on renewable energy use.

“Helius Energy would expect the council, in accordance with its obligations, to seek to achieve the best value for its constituents both now and in the future and to give due consideration to any opportunity to benefit from local renewable energy.

“A full application for a development consent order for the proposed scheme is being prepared and will be submitted to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in due course.”