Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Biofuel power station impacts 'not significant' say council

Very recent email sent to city council planners (*below). Apparently the biofuel power station planned for Avonmouth is considered too small at 50MW to make providing an environmental impact statement mandatory (it would need to be 300MW or more for this). A statement could still be prepared as the power station plan falls into the optional category but city planners dont think its impacts are 'significant' enough to make a statement a requirement - such is the state of environmental regulation at present!

*Many thanks for your reply and attached document received before Christmas.
I'm both surprised and rather shocked that a city with green ambitions is
saying that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required in this
instance. It appears you have concluded that there can be no significant
impacts. In my personal and professional view this cannot be right. The
city should be insisting that all power station developments add to
efficiency, renewability, health and wellbeing and stay within
environmental limits - if it is to live up to its ambitions.

Leaving aside the enormously significant fact that you dont take a whole
system view (eg not considering the total impacts of obtaining the fuels
to be burned...) surely the impact on local air quality is significant in
a crucial sense. Air quality in Avonmouth is already poor and many other
developments in Avonmouth are underway or in the pipeline, therefore if
this biofuel power station cannot meet the very strictest emission to air
standards (which current figures suggest it cannot) then its operation
would worsen air quality still further.

It may well be that the Environment Agency would not give the station a
license to operate due to its air pollution. Could you please take what
I've said fully into account and check with your contacts at Natural
England and the Environment Agency (I'd appreciate it if you could give me
the direct contact details for both these organisations so that I too can
discuss the issue with them).

I'd also appreciate an update on when/where the plans will go to the
planning committee when you have such information.


  1. Reply from council planning officer:
    I don't think it is normal practice to provide contact details but
    copies of the correspondence we received from Natural England and the
    Environment Agency is on the councils website,

    Please note that the application is not going to be considered on the
    20th Jan, due to the submission of further information which needs to be
    carefully considered. The next available committee date is the 24th

  2. Dear Glenn,

    I am a comms officer from the Environment Agency. Please email me at;

    with your questions. My colleagues and I are willing to meet with you and discuss the issues you raise.

    Yours sincerely
    Kevin Baker

  3. Excellent, I'll be in touch shortly Kevin, to make some arrangements.


Genuine, open, reasonable debate is most welcome. Comments that meet this test will always be published.