Biomass plant - 'If it should go ahead Leith is wrong place'

Built to produce power on an industrial scale and with a chimney up to twice the height of the Scott Monument, the biomass plant proposed for Leith was never going to be pretty.

But its credentials for becoming the Capital's biggest carbuncle since the St James Centre - highlighted in these pages today by protesters - are far from the biggest concern it raises.

The potential impact on residents' health has got to be the main worry - and it is one which has prompted no less than NHS Lothian to demand more research into the risks.

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But there are also fears about the impact on the quality of life of people living in the area, some of them just 400 metres away.

And what of the vision for the wider Waterfront as an attractive and desirable place to live and spend time? Many reasonably fear that a biomass plant would leave such plans in tatters.

Yes, Forth Energy's proposed plant could be a significant source of renewable energy, and the fact that it might create up to 700 temporary and 75 permanent jobs cannot be ignored in the current economic climate.

But the argument that it should be built beside the port to be close to its fuel delivery point seems laughable when you consider the woodchip may first be shipped from across the Atlantic. How green is that?

It is becoming increasingly apparent that there are question marks over any such development, and that even if it should go ahead Leith is the wrong place for it.

Water result

THE effort to balance budgets through cuts to public services is proving to be a battle for hearts and minds at every level.

The arguments dominate life at Westminster and will play large in May's Holyrood elections. On this page today Jenny Dawe explains the council's plans to save money.

Our report on page seven shows the debate goes to an even more basic level, with Edinburgh Leisure explaining its plans to modify the controversial 2 charge it imposed on young swimmers just five weeks ago.

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At the time the News said we hoped parents would still see this as decent value - and the number of swimmers has risen, not fallen.

But there has to be a danger that this increase is temporary and is down to the big freeze which shut some facilities in January 2010.

It is fair enough that those who can afford to pay for using pools do so. But the decision to look at ways to ease the pain for parents, by introducing family memberships or monthly tickets, is welcome.

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