PLANS for the North Blyth Biomass Power Station are making steady progress after the latest round of public consultation and the planning application is expected to be submitted in the summer.
The 100MW renewable energy project, located on the River Blyth at Battleship Wharf, was first announced in 2009. Since then, the developer RES has been taking forward the design of the project, undertaking environmental and technical studies and consulting stakeholders, including local residents, the planning authority, neighbouring businesses and organisations like the Environment Agency and Natural England. As a large infrastructure project over 50MW, the application will be examined by the Infrastructure Planning Commission.
RES chose Blyth as a proposed site because of the area’s skilled workforce and good infrastructure, such as the port facilities. The area is rapidly becoming a centre for renewable energy – more than 20% of the region’s electricity needs could be met by renewables by 2020 – and the project will contribute to the growth of the low-carbon economy and the creation of sustainable jobs.
The latest designs
The North Blyth Biomass Power Station will generate over 750 million kWh of clean, green and reliable electricity every year – enough to power over 170,000 average British homes.
At recent public exhibitions, RES presented the latest design as it has evolved during the consultation period.
The plant structures will cover an estimated five hectares and comprise the fuel reception and fuel store (similar to a large distribution warehouse) and the boiler house containing the combustion system and power generation equipment, which will be the tallest building at 65 metres high. The facility will also have a 105-metre-high chimney.
Natural biomass fuel
The plant will be fuelled by wood chips, pellets or briquettes produced from sustainably sourced domestic or imported forestry material, dedicated energy crops or non-recyclable waste wood. The majority of fuel will be brought in by ship – one of the reasons why this location was chosen – and the remainder by road, though RES is also examining rail freight for fuel delivery. Using the Port of Blyth to handle the majority of the fuel will help secure its economic future for the area.
Jobs and economic benefits
The biomass power plant will employ up to 300 workers at the peak of construction, a large proportion of which will be local. Once operational, the plant will directly employ over 40 workers with career opportunities across a range of skills. There are opportunities for existing and new industries in the supply chain and the project could become a magnet for green growth.
The project represents a major capital investment of the order of £250m. It is likely to lead to extended “multiplier” benefits and the local economy will also benefit from the income from business rates and the annual community fund that will be established once the project is up and running.
Consulting the community
Throughout the planning stage, RES has been working closely with local authorities, technical experts and local residents to seek views on the proposals, address any concerns and aim to produce a good quality application with minimal local impacts on residents and the environment. For example, a traffic management plan will be agreed to control traffic during construction and operation and an important aim of this plan will be to minimise impacts on local residents. RES has been consulting through newsletter mail-outs, meetings with community groups and individuals, local public exhibitions and a website with an online survey; and a Community Liaison Group is being set up.
The consultation is still taking place and RES is keen to hear people’s views as the planning application is finalised. All the consultation documents, including the results of environmental and technical surveys and the latest architectural designs, are available for viewing locally or on the project website.
CONTACT RES WITH YOUR VIEWS:
Freephone: 0800 032 0420