Tayside and Central Scotland

Go-ahead for Forth Energy wood-fuel power station at Grangemouth

Artists impression of Grangemouth plant
Image caption An artist's impression of the Grangemouth plant, which could be producing heat and power by 2017

Consent has been granted to develop a £465m wood-fuelled heat and power plant at the Port of Grangemouth.

Forth Energy said the 18-hectare site could be operating by 2017, burning wood mostly shipped from overseas.

It is hoped the plant could create between 300 and 500 construction jobs and 70 posts based at the port, running the plant and handling the fuel.

Local campaigners condemned the decision, calling it a "bad day for the people of Grangemouth".

Forth Energy said electricity from the combined heat and power biomass plant would be supplied to the national grid and heat would be supplied to industrial users.

Managing director Calum Wilson said he was delighted ministers had approved the "ambitious" project.

He said: "This consent creates the opportunity for us to develop a combined heat and power plant that will generate low carbon renewable electricity and heat from wood fuel shipped to the plant, whilst delivering significant benefits to the Grangemouth economy.

"We will now examine the details of the decision and look forward to engaging with the Scottish government, Falkirk Council and the local community to take our plans forward."

The Scottish government said the plant would generate enough power for about 130,000 homes.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "In consenting this application I have put in place a series of conditions to protect local residents from inconvenience, safeguard the appearance of the area, and protect the environment and air quality.

"The conditions to the consent also ensure that the fuel used in the biomass is from sustainable and responsible sources."

'Plain daft'

However, the Green Party and environmental campaigners hit out at the decision.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, said: "Chopping down swathes of foreign forest to burn in Scotland is plain daft. The Scottish government has made a poor decision, and should instead be supporting genuinely sustainable heat and power at a local level."

Walter Inglis, chairman of Grangemouth Community Council, said: "This is a bad day for the people of Grangemouth who have worsening air quality to look forward to, but it's also a bad day for the people of Scotland because of the wider issues that affect us all."

Friends of the Earth Scotland questioned the government's strategy on the use of large-scale biomass projects.

Director Richard Dixon said: "It claims to have a policy favouring use of biomass in small-scale plants, off the gas grid, using primarily local sources of supply.

"Now it approves a massive power station importing over a million tonnes of trees a year to burn for electricity, with no guarantee that Forth Energy will find customers for the heat it produces."

Previous plans for a biomass plant in Leith were ruled out by Forth Energy last year.

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