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Residents have their say about changes to proposed Portland power plant
CONCERNS were raised as people were given the chance to have their say about changes to a proposed Portland power plant.
More than 60 residents, councillors and campaigners attended the exhibition at Portland Port organised by W4B which has permission to build a £35 million liquid biomass power plant on the edge of Balaclava Bay.
They have now applied to the council to amend the feedstock for their proposed plant to permit the use of rubber crumb, created from old car tyres, as an alternative to palm oil during the first phase of development.
Many people who attended the exhibition said their questions about the development were left unanswered.
Currently the company's planning consent only allows it to use vegetable oil as feedstock.
Chairman of W4B Chris Slack said the amendment would mean the plant would use rubber crumb for the first six months before the process was reviewed.
The conversion of the tyres, supplied within the UK, into crumb will take place away from Portland.
From this W4B hopes to create an interim plant that will convert the crumb into synthetic diesel and LPG and will generate six megawatts of renewable energy and said there will be no emissions and no smell from the plant.
Work to prepare the site for construction began earlier this year, which could provide enough power for 3,000 homes.
Mr Slack said that the plant would help to solve a 'major problem' for local councils - disposing of used car tyres that are no longer permitted at landfill and 'positively contribute' towards Dorset's waste disposal strategy and its renewable energy targets.
The plant would create around 22 jobs to oversee the running of the venture for 24 hours a day and up to 300 more due to a proposal for W4B to provide energy for a planned dry dock at Portland Port.
Concerns were raised about the emissions of transport in and out of the site, whether the jobs created would be permanent and the true impact on the local area.
South and West Dorset Green Party officer Jane Burnet said there are still lots of uncertainties.
“Mr Slack couldn't tell us how the flues would be scrubbed nor how long this go on for.
“He spoke of long term plans and yet this was going to be an interim.
“We do not have confidence in W4B and we don't believe Portland is the right location given sea transport is no longer necessary.”
She added: “Also, the company ignored local concerns in January and started developing the site without pollution plans.”
Borough councillor Kate Wheller said W4B had 'clearly come unprepared' to the consultation after more detailed questions about emissions could not be answered.
Planning permission was sought on Portland due to the requirement of sea access, but since then the new technology that can convert rubber crumble into renewable fuels were patented by UK company Cracking Energy Machines Ltd (CEML).
Sandy West, a Portland ward councillor at the borough council, said: “Portland is a unique world heritage site and an island of special scientific interest so I can't understand why this plant could not be built in an area of industrial activity.”
A second full planning application which includes the amendment will be submitted to Weymouth and Portland Borough council next month.
RPS, W4B's planning consultants, said that further information, including the unanswered questions, would be available to the public on April 12 on the borough council website.
Joe Borez, a spokesman for campaign group No Oil Palm Energy (NOPE), said W4B are 'hedging their bets' by attempting to permit the use of rubber crumb as well as vegetable oil.
“With W4B's credibility among Portland residents seriously undermined by their consistent inability to decide on their fuel stock, so we are taking everything they say with a pinch of sulphur.
“What we were offered today was not a more sustainable alternative to vegetable oil but just another unknown entity without proven environmental credentials.
“It does seem W4B are hedging their bets.
“They still have permission to use vegetable oil, including palm oil, but they now present us with a new and unproven technology into the mix.”