Biomass: Our response to the Committee report

The Policy & Resources Committee of Dundee City Council met to consider Forth Energy’s biomass plant application on June 24th.  Friends of the Earth Tayside set out a number of important facts that were missing from the Committee report, set out below, and also issued a more detailed response (Biomass – our response to committee report) in conjunction with Biofuelwatch.

TWELVE IMPORTANT THINGS YOU WON’T FIND IN THE OFFICIAL REPORT ON THE BIOMASS PLANT APPLICATION

Despite the mass of paperwork, the Director’s report omits some important information which Councillors should be aware of when deciding how to vote on Monday. The Councillors’ Code of Conduct states that Councillors “have a duty to consider issues on their merits, taking account of the views of others.” It is therefore essential for Councillors to have considered all the different views, not just the arguments presented by the developer and Council officials.

Air pollution and health

1. Virtually twice as many people in Dundee are treated for respiratory diseases compared with those in rural Tayside (NHS Tayside figures)

2. Burning trees produces more very fine particulates than burning coal. These are implicated in a growing number of serious health issues from heart attacks to low birthweight for babies, causing 29,000 early deaths in the UK annually (official estimates), yet the Addendum and the Report do not address these.

3. The easterly winds prevailing in the spring would carry these particulates into existing “hotspots” in central and eastern Dundee, adding to the impacts on perople’s health at home and in workplaces (using Leuchars weather data).

4. The chimney stack will release into the atmosphere over Dundee nitrogen oxides equivalent to those produced by 1.9 million cars (based on Forth Energy’s figures)

5. Forth Energy’s calculations for NO2 pollution would be twice as high if it had used the same (standard) methodology which it used in its application for Grangemouth – but it changed the methodology because Dundee’s air is so seriously polluted already

6. The UK Supreme Court spelled out on 1 May the responsibility on governments to protect their citizens from the harmful effects of air pollution and this is likely to create more pressure on Councils to take more drastic steps to reduce pollution levels in the coming years.

7. The legal limits on air pollution – already exceeded in Dundee – are expected to be reduced within a few years as more evidence emerges of the impacts on health, according to the World Health Organisation.

Toxic waste

8. The 12,000 tonnes of toxic ash produced each year will have to be trucked to landfill sites, contrary to the Zero Waste Scotland policy.  These two HGVs per day will add to the two HGVs per hour delivering fuel.

Cost of jobs / inefficiency

9. Each of the 70 permanent jobs will cost virtually £1m per year in subsidy from our energy bills (total subsidy £66m per year at current prices).

10. The plant will only be 35% efficient in producing energy from trees – half the EU standard for biomass CHP – because it has to focus on electricity production to maximise subsidies. It’s too big, in the wrong place, and uses the wrong technology – completely contrary to the Government’s own policy on the use of biomass in small plants primarily for heat, in locations off the gas grid.

Sustainability

11. The proposed sustainability criteria will not prevent clearance of long-established woodland, rich in biodiversity, as recently shown in an investigation by the BBC.

Climate Change

12. This so-called “renewable” power plant will produce more carbon emissions than burning coal, contrary to Scotland’s ambitious emission reduction targets, according to research using data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change..

See Biomass – our response to committee report for more details, calculations and sources.