Biomass stack to be twice as high as Scott Monument

A CHIMNEY that will stand at twice the height of the Scott Monument is set to be included in controversial plans for a new energy plant on Edinburgh's waterfront.

Developers of the biomass plant, which is being earmarked for Leith docks, today revealed plans to lodge their planning application with the Scottish Government in January.

Forth Energy had initially warned that the facility's smokestack would need to be 100 metres tall, but have now said it is likely to be around 120m - twice the height of the Scott Monument.

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The company, which is a partnership between Forth Ports and Scottish and Southern Energy, says the plant will create hundreds of jobs and help Edinburgh hit renewable energy targets.

But local campaigners and politicians, including city leader Jenny Dawe, have raised concerns about the development.

Forth Energy plans to hold a series of public exhibitions across the Capital later this month to give members of the public their say.

Calum Wilson, managing director of Forth Energy, said developers had worked hard to try to lessen the impact.

He said: "I'm not claiming it's going to be attractive, but the studies have indicated that it needs to be that height.

"The Port of Leith offers unique opportunities to the renewables sector and biomass has a vital role to play in this.

"Biomass is as reliable as coal or gas but has a significantly lower environmental impact and has the potential to supply renewable heat locally."

The 200-megawatt plant is expected to create between 500-700 jobs during construction and sustain a further 60 or so once operational.

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However, environmentalists have raised concerns that fuel in the form of wood chip or wood pellets will be shipped from North America.

Rob Kirkwood, of the Leith Links Residents' Association, said: "Our objections go far beyond the size of the chimney, which will dominate the landscape but will not properly disperse harmful dioxins.

"The plant will also be lit up like a football ground 24 hours a day and is in an area that's designed as residential. Who's going to be buy flats there when there's a biomass plant?"

If given the go-ahead, the facility could be up and running by the end of 2015.

The next round of public exhibitions begin on November 10 at the St James Centre, before moving to Leith Parish Halls on November 12 and then Ocean Terminal the following day.