Saturday, 12 January 2013

High time Dundee biomass decision takes place

Two years after Dundee City Council first considered the biomass application for the city, I have said it is high time the matter is finally resolved and that the biomass proposal is rejected once and for all.

Almost exactly two years ago, 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.

There is a real need now to end the uncertainty on the matter and I recently sought a further update from the City Council’s Director of City Development on the issue.

By way of background, in July 2012, the City Council's Director of City Development advised me:

"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."

The Director of City Development yesterday (11th January 2013) further updated me:

“There was a delay in collating the necessary data on air quality.  It has now been collated and an Addendum Report to the EIA should be submitted to the Scottish Government shortly.  When it is, it will be advertised in the press and made available for public comment.  Once it has  been submitted and the Council has an opportunity to consider the information, a report will be brought before the Council within 2 to 3 months.”

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 2 years 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.