1800 voice opposition to biomass plant plans

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NEARLY 1800 objections have been submitted over plans for a massive biomass plant on the Capital's waterfront - putting it on course to become the most controversial development ever proposed in Edinburgh.

&#149 The proposed power station would feature a 120-metre-high chimney

The vast majority of the representations made about the 360 million facility have been opposed to the proposals, with only a handful thought to be in support.

It now seems almost certain that a full public inquiry will be called by the Scottish Government to decide whether to approve the plans by Forth Energy, a joint venture between Forth Ports and Scottish and Southern Energy.

One of Edinburgh's most senior councillors today launched a bid to block the development.

Licensing leader Marjorie Thomas, pictured below, who also sits on the city's planning committee, fears that the plant, which includes a 120-metre-tall chimney, will have a negative impact on the growth of Leith as a food and leisure destination.

Cllr Thomas, who represents the Leith ward, said: "A lot of people around here depend on the Michelin restaurants and the tourist industry, with people coming to see Britannia and having a meal on The Shore. This will not add to that at all.

"I've taken a long time to think about this because I do not want to be a 'Nimby' but there are a lot of brownfield sites around the Seafield area and that would have been a lot more appropriate.

"We're supposed to have over 18,000 people moving in and people have already bought houses in good faith. This will do nothing for these people's property values.

"And we are supposed to be having a series of villages along the coast, Ocean Terminal revamped, big wheels, parks and housing and this is supposed to become a nice place for people to stay so I just feel this is the wrong place for this."

Unlike most planning applications, the city council will not make a decision on the biomass proposal, as all new developments that will generate more than 50 megawatts of electricity have to go before the Scottish Government for a decision.

With 1800 objections already submitted and another short consultation to take place later this year, the development looks on track to get even more objections than the Caltongate scheme, which also attracted more than 1800 letters of representation.

Mark Lazarowicz, Labour MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said: "The waterfront panorama is an asset for Leith, the city, and indeed the Firth of Forth beyond.

"The redevelopment of the docks should allow this asset to be enhanced, but the proposed plant will damage that asset instead."

Lothians SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "There can be no doubt that this power station would significantly undermine further residential and commercial development in the area, undoing a great deal of work and undermining public and private investment."

Councillors on the development management sub-committee of the planning committee are expected to formalise the council's response in May.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "If the local authority makes an objection and does not withdraw it, there will be a public inquiry.

"Ministers will take into account all representations made in the course of the consultation and these will be a material consideration in determining the application or in deciding whether to hold a public inquiry."