Protesters call for halt to biomass plant plans

CAMPAIGNERS have launched a bid to stop plans for a £360 million biomass plant on Edinburgh's waterfront.

A planning application for the plant, which will be powered by wood brought from North America or Scandinavia, is due to be lodged with the Scottish Government at the start of next year.

But local residents have begun a fightback, today launching a new website - - and an online petition against the plans.

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Sally Millar, of the Leith Links Residents' Association and a member of the No to Leith Biomass Plant campaign, said the initiative was not about "nimbyism" but about the "real health concerns" associated with the plant.

She said: "The main local concern is health. There are major health risks from the emissions of the plant itself, which are known to be toxic.

"The second concern is the air pollution associated with the number of lorries going in and out of the plant, and Leith's air quality is already recorded as being sub-standard."

She also called into question the "greenness" of the plant, saying campaigners did not believe many of the developer's assertions about its sustainability.

Earlier this week, the News revealed that the chimney at the centre of the plant will stand at twice the height of the Scott Monument.

Forth Energy had initially warned that the facility's smokestack would need to be 100 metres tall, but it has now said it is likely to be around 120 metres.

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.

However, politicians including city leader Jenny Dawe have raised concerns about the development.

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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: "Forth Energy started the process of introducing these proposals to local residents in February, with our exhibition at the Ocean Terminal shopping centre.

"We were pleased with the feedback from that event and are committed to continuing to keep people informed and involved as our plans develop."

He added: "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 and 700 jobs during construction and sustain a further 60 or so once operational.

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

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

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