On Tuesday October 21 October, Bristol City Council planning officer, ANGELO CALABRESI will rubber stamp under delegated powers a planning application for Balfour Beatty and Nexterra Systems Corp (NXT) to build a 10MW wood burning (BIOMASS) incinerator opposite the old Phil Black Site.
This means that this application WILL NOT even go before a planning committee. Only councillors can now call this decision in to put before a planning committee.
Lib Dem councillor in Lawrence Weston, TIM LEAMAN, has been seeking the assistance of Avonmouth councillors Wayne “DEE” Harvey and Matthew “DUM” Melias. And guess what? They’re dragging their heels.
An Avonmouth resident said, “we need to make the summer protests look like a garden party. Once again we need to wake up the people who think it’s ok to play RUSSIAN ROULETTE with our health and wellbeing and that of future generations.”
· Carcinogenic dust hazard
The plant is stated to burn 60,000 tonnes per annum of waste wood. Boomeco, with whom this plant is stated to operate, at present exports about half this figure from Avonmouth docks. The dust created by the stacking and loading of this current quantity of waste wood already causes significant nuisance and health hazards in Avonmouth. These have already been widely reported in the Press. Wood dust is classified by the World Health Orginisation as a grade 1 carcinogen (causing cancer of the nasal passages.) The proposed handling of double the quantities of wood would continue in the open air, causing a serious, possibly illegal, health hazard.
· Toxic Wood Fuel
The Atkins EIA states (3.2) that the waste wood will not include Grade D waste categorized as hazardous waste and including all grades of wood including treated material such as fencing. Anybody who has visited Days Road or the other Council domestic wood waste reclamation sites – which will provide the fuel – can see that decking, fencing, lead-painted wood etc. containing heavy metals is a standard component. This is not separated out and thus will be included in the fuel. If burnt, these toxic materials will pass through to the ash and flue emissions of the plant. As PM2.5s and nano-particles they can disperse poison over the whole city.
· Source of Fuel too dispersed
This will be trucked from as far afield as Oxford, Wiltshire and Hereford. Wood has a low specific energy content as a fuel – it is bulky for the amount of heat delivered – So transport emissions of greenhouse gases will be high.
· Competition for waste wood Fuel
The Mayor of Bristol has proposed local district heating schemes using waste biomass as fuel. These would compete with Boomeco for the fuel. Other waste-wood plants are proposed and the source of supply may be threatened.
· Greenhouse gas consequences of inadequate supply of waste wood.
Throughout the UK waste-wood power-plants are being built and it is almost certain that the supply of waste wood will not be sufficient to guarantee long-term availability of this fuel source. The companies will be using the fall-back position that they can always import wood pellets/chips. Experience (eg. Drax power station) shows that this wood is likely to come from clear felling old-growth forests in the USA, or plantations that have displaced old-growth forests. DECC have stated that they expect 80 per cent of biomass to be burnt in the UK for power generation will have to be imported. DECC have published figures to show that this fuel is WORSE for greenhouse gas emissions than the current fossil fuel mix for electricity generation. http://www.foe.co.uk/blog/blind-carbon-burning
The sustainability of the fuel source IS a ‘material consideration’ for planning purposes.
· Alternative re-use of waste wood
Wood is a valuable resource. The Bristol Wood Recycling Project state that 25% of scrap wood can be reused. Waste wood can also be used for making chip and particle board. A technology that sees it only as fuel to burn, is an outdated technology that has no place alongside the ambition of Bristol as Green Capital 2015.
· Fire Hazard
The 2012 fire at Tilbury power station in the wood pellet store – which took three days to bring under control and destroyed the storage facility – shows the dangerous nature of storing wood chips/pellets. There are no plans to handle the fuel under an inert atmosphere.
· Dangerous Wood Dust disposal
The plant will not accept ‘fines’ from Boomeco. This is the wood dust which must be removed before the fuel is burnt. This is an explosive and carcinogenic substance. There are no details of how and where the fines will be disposed of by Boomeco.
· Toxic Ash disposal
The ash will contain heavy metals and other toxic substances from the waste wood burnt. There are no details of how and where this will be disposed of.
· The plant is in a flood zone
What precautions will be taken to stop wood fuel, toxic ash etc. from being scattered by a flood?
· Impact on Natura 2000 classified Severn Estuary wildlife refuge.
No figures are supplied modelling the deposition of nitrogen. The deposition already exceeds permitted levels on the reserve, which is less than a kilometre from the site. If the potential impact of the pollutants directly attributable to the installation exceeds 1% of the permitted level, the effect of background concentration, and also the potential effect of all other planned facilities that could contribute the same pollutants, must be assessed. This has not been done. Atkins admit (220.127.116.11)
‘there may be indirect impacts on the ecology and wildlife of the estuary’
· Untried technology.
The company behind this application, Nexterra, and the process they use, have been beset with serious problems, which go far beyond those of ‘conventional’ biomass plants. Recently, Nexterra were forced to close a similarly designed plant in Tennessee because within less than 18 months, the weak acids in the woodgas had corroded key components. Luckily it got shut down without a serious incident. Whereas their similar plant at the University of South Carolina exploded. Which is not an unusual record for this technology.