Controversial Leith biomass plant will not go ahead

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By a Newsnet reporter

SNP MSP Colin Keir has welcomed today’s news that Forth Energy has abandoned its plans to build a large scale biomass plant at the Port of Leith. 

In a statement released on Thursday, Forth Energy announced that it was withdrawing its plan, citing new proposals to develop the Port of Leith as a hub for renewable energy manufacture and the consequent demand for space.

Leith residents had campaigned hard against the proposals, which ran contrary to national Scottish Government policy on biomass.  The plan would have seen the plant situated just 200 metres from housing, and envisaged the construction of a 120m chimney emitting toxic fumes 24 hours a day.  Local people also cited fears of increased lorry traffic on residential roads in the area.

Almost 4,000 objections were lodged by residents from across the city on grounds including noise, visual impact, emissions and air quality.

SNP MSP for Edinburgh Western Mr Keir, who has backed the campaign against the proposed plant from the outset, said:

“This is great news, not just for Leith but for the whole of Edinburgh.  There has been enormous opposition to the biomass proposal from day one, from the city’s residents AND also from expert environmental groups including WWF Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Forestry Commission.

“The abandonment of the plant shows that Forth Energy has had no choice but to listen to the evidence that large scale biomass, particularly without the recovery of ‘waste’ heat, is not a sustainable energy solution for Scotland.

“In the face of climate change, rising fuel poverty, and gas prices that are expected to rocket by the end of the decade, the plan to allow the Leith plant to dump waste heat into the Forth was simply not sustainable.

“Scottish government policy on biomass is clear: it does have a role to play in generating heat, but it should only be deployed in heat-only or combined heat and power schemes, off gas-grid and at a scale appropriate to make best use of the available heat.  The Leith proposal ran counter to those requirements in every regard and Forth Energy should never have taken these plans as far as they did.

“I congratulate the No Leith Biomass group on this outcome. They campaigned tirelessly against the proposal, with the support of the community in Leith and across Edinburgh, and they can be rightly satisfied with this result.”