Saturday, 4 August 2012

Dundee biomass - an update

Back in January of last year, I seconded an attempt at the City Council to oppose a biomass application on the River Tay in the east of Dundee, on the grounds of the adverse impact on air quality, the impact of the plant on visual amenity and the effect of heavy goods vehicles passing through residential areas to service the facility.    

The SNP administration moved to simply defer consideration pending more information on air quality.   This was, in my view, an unsatisfactory response, but was narrowly carried.

Many constituents have asked me for an update on the situation and I have received the following update from the City Council's Director of City Development:

"The Forth Energy Biomass application and accompanying Environmental Impact Assessment were submitted to the Scottish Government Energy Consents Unit who are the consenting authority for this development.

As a statutory consultee, the Council advised the Scottish Government of the decision of the Policy and Resources Committee of January 2011 that their decision on the application should be deferred to allow comprehensive air quality information to be submitted demonstrating that the development will not have an adverse impact on air quality and public health. The  Scottish Government have agreed to this deferral and once the appropriate information has been gathered it is a matter for the Scottish Government to decide how the application will proceed.  However, they have indicated that they expect the additional information to be submitted in the form of an addendum to the application and the EIA and that the consultation process will recommence when it is received.

Once the Scottish Government consult the Council (along with other consultees) on the additional information, a report will be prepared for the Council so that it can decide what its consultation response to the application should be.  It is anticipated that this information should be available by Autumn so that the Council may be in a position to consider it in late 2012/early 2013."

As one of the councillors who was very concerned by the Biomass application when it was first considered by the City Council and called for an immediate Public Inquiry over the matter, I feel that the SNP administration’s non-decision to simply defer the application pending air quality tests has simply led to over 18 months of uncertainty.  The sooner the matter is determined the better and this uncertainty and concern can end.    I agree with calls for the air quality tests to be made public.

Speaking with constituents, there is also a great deal of concern over other aspects of the biomass proposal – visual amenity and large number of additional vehicle movements being examples.   It is high time this uncertainty is ended.