A leading renewable energy company said it was delighted after plans for a £250m biomass power station on the Northumberland coastline were given the green light by the Government.
RES says the 100-megawatt plant – to be built at Battleship Wharf on the River Blyth – will generate enough low-carbon electricity to power more than 170,000 homes a year, and create hundreds of construction jobs.
However, approval for the plant came as a blow to objectors in the nearby villages of North Blyth and Cambois, who say it will harm their quality of life.
Yesterday’s decision, by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, follows a six-month public examination of the scheme by the Planning Inspectorate.
Last night, RES said it expects to start construction work on the Port of Blyth-owned site next year, with the project taking about two-and-a-half years to complete.
It is the first biomass development by RES, which says the plant will create between 200 and 300 construction jobs, and up to 50 permanent posts.
It will include a group of fuel storage buildings up to 25 metres tall and a 60 to 70- metre boiler house, with a chimney up to 100 metres tall.
The project was opposed by a number of residents, who claim the plant will be too big and too close to their homes. Fears have also been voiced that it will cause air pollution and traffic problems.
The scheme was also opposed by the North Tyneside branch of Friends of the Earth, who questioned its green credentials. Last night, Paul and Carol Crossland, who live in North Blyth and led protest campaign, said they were ”very disappointed but not surprised” at the decision.
Mrs Crossland said: ”This will be a huge development, and the negative visual and other impacts will blight the village of North Blyth and several other communities for many years to come.
“It will overshadow a beautiful beach, affecting the wider community.
“We will make every effort to hold the developer to their promise that money from a community fund will be spent in the areas most affected, and that the group responsible for administering the fund is not politically motivated or influenced.”
Mr Crossland said residents would work with RES to ensure that mitigation measures and other issues raised at the examination in public were adhered to during the construction and operation of the plant.
“We certainly didn't want it, but will endeavour to make the most of it,” he pledged.
RES project manager, Chris Lawson, said the project represented a significant investment in the Blyth and North East economy.
“We are delighted by the decision to grant permission for this power station, which we believe will play an important part in the strong and growing renewable energy industry in south east Northumberland.
“It is also a welcome confirmation of the Government’s support for sustainable, low carbon energy projects which will make a significant contribution towards meeting the UK’s legally binding 2020 renewable energy targets.
“We now look forward to taking the project forward to construction, and to kick-starting this multimillion-pound investment.
“We have really appreciated the interest and input that the local community has given to the North Blyth scheme, and in particular the work of the community liaison group. We will continue to work with the group, as well as local residents and business, as we move towards starting construction next year. We also look forward to engaging with local people on the community benefit fund that the project will bring.”