Councillors vote to fight biomass plant

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CONTROVERSIAL plans for a multi-million pound biomass plant suffered a setback this week.

Forth Energy’s proposals for a 100 megawatt development, on Forth Ports’ land at Grangemouth Docks, had already generated a large number of objections from residents and Grangemouth community council.

Now Falkirk Council has lodged its official opposition to the proposals.

The council’s planning committee yesterday (Wednesday), went against officers’ recommendations and voted to oppose, in principle, Forth Energy’s plans.

It was claimed a main concern was the lack of information on the impact the development, which would bring significant investment and jobs, would have on air quality in the town.

Councillor Angus MacDonald said: “The good health of 18,000 Grangemouth residents is more important than the 300 jobs the site would bring. This is the wrong site in the wrong place and 75 per cent of residents are against it. It is too close to housing and the Asda superstore. The wood to be used as fuel is to be imported from North America - which is hardly locally sourced. It is clearly not renewable energy if the plant is not close to the actual fuel source.”

Councillor Alistair McNeill, who supported Councillor MacDonald’s motion to oppose the plans, stated the 300 jobs the development would create would be construction jobs and the plant would only employ around 40 people when it was up and running.

The council’s environmental health officers said the information they had been supplied suggested it was unlikely the plant would have an adverse impact on air quality in the town.

Ccouncil leader Craig Martin added that the plans were in line with the local authority’s planning policies and moved the committee approve the proposals in principle.

He said: “We are not the decision-making body here. We are simply referring our views to Scottish ministers, who will then take their decision at a later date.”

However, planning committee convener Billy Buchanan backed the motion to oppose.

He said: “This is one of the biggest applications to come forward to this council so we have to make sure it is of benefit to the wider community. We don’t want to be accused in the future of imposing anything which will have an adverse effect on the community. “We would like to see this massive investment in the area, but a lot of questions remain unanswered.”