England

Southampton and Avonmouth biomass plants shelved

The preferred design Image copyright Helius Energy
Image caption Helius said the plant in Southampton could have generated sufficient electricity to power 200,000 homes

Plans for two biomass power stations have been abandoned after the company behind them hit financial problems.

Helius Energy is selling a controlling stake in the firm for £12.3m and delisting from the stock exchange.

A wood-fired plant in Avonmouth, Bristol, had approval but the firm has failed to find the required investment before consent expires on Thursday.

Helius said in light of this move it would not be able to deliver a planned biomass station in Southampton.

The £300m plant on the south coast drew criticism from the local community, council and the local MP when it was unveiled in 2011.

'Great regret'

Residents living nearby complained the plant and its 100m (328ft) chimney would overshadow homes and affect property values.

Helius amended its original plan but a promised planning application, due to be submitted in 2012, has never materialised.

Steven Galton, from No Southampton Biomass, said: "This is the news we have all been waiting for.

"Southampton City Council previously made it clear they would not be a heat customer for Helius and it was at this point No Southampton Biomass knew their plans were a dead duck.

"Better late than never, Helius has finally admitted they have no future and No Southampton Biomass can finally relax and celebrate."

The site in Avonmouth was given approval in 2010 but has since failed to get off the ground.

The plants would have worked by burning large amounts of organic matter with the steam spinning turbines to create electricity to be fed into the National Grid.

John Seed, chairman of Helius, said it was with "great regret" the projects would not go ahead but the firm had to consider the best value for shareholders.

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