Council yet to decide on biomass site

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COUNCIL bosses have yet to decide on whether to lodge a formal objection to plans for a controversial energy plant in Leith, despite the city leader raising health concerns.

Last year Councillor Jenny Dawe said the council had received "strong advice" about the effect burning biomass could have on air quality.

The city council today said it had yet to lodge any submission on the plans after developer Forth Energy submitted them to the Scottish Government.

Forth Energy said the project would create up to 700 construction jobs and a further 75 posts once up and running, providing renewable energy for 54 per cent of the Capital's electricity needs. If given the go-ahead, the facility could be on line by the end of 2015.

There are concerns, however, about the scale of the plant. It will include a 120-metre chimney and last week NHS Lothian said a fuller assessment of the public health impacts had to be carried out.

Cllr Dawe said last year the plant may affect the health of residents and workers, after research ruled out the use of biomass boilers in schools due to concerns pupils would be affected by fumes.

She said: "Clearly the impact of this plant in terms of the fumes it produces is going to have to be looked at very closely. We decided against biomass boilers in schools after significant health and safety concerns were raised.

"We had very strong advice that there may be a danger from having biomass boilers in air-quality hotspots where there are large numbers of people living or a lot of traffic."

Forth Energy, a joint venture between Forth Ports and Scottish and Southern Energy, has earmarked a site just 400 metres from homes for the scheme.

The city council today said it had yet to decide whether to make any submission. A spokeswoman said: "The planning department will examine the relevant information before a report is formally made to the development management committee, which will then decide whether or not to make a formal submission to the Scottish Government."

Hundreds of people have signed a petition against the plans.

Calum Wilson, managing director of Forth Energy, said: "An environmental impact assessment has been undertaken and forms part of our application. The scope of this assessment has been agreed with the Scottish Government, both air quality and health are addressed appropriately."