In March 2010 Helius Energy plc got planning permission from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), under Section 36 of The Electricity Act 1989 (effectively bypassing the normal local planning process) for a 100MW dedicated biomass power station at the N end of Avonmouth Docks. It will burn around 850,000 green tonnes of biomass (mostly imported wood) a year. This will accelerate deforestation and biodiversity loss and and despite claims of a 722,000 tonne annual carbon saving is actually worse for the climate than burning coal! (See the Big Biomass page for discussions of why this is.) It will produce significant local NO2 and small particulate pollution which has severe public health impacts.
Helius Energy has failed to secure finance since 2010 but in October 2013 was given a significant kick-start by being included on HM Treasury’s UK Guarantee Scheme shortlist of ‘pre-qualified’ projects for public money to guarantee private loans to private developers of ‘key’ infrastructure projects. They will also consider stepping in with a cash injection if finance is not forthcoming! (Other projects on the shortlist include 3 other biomass projects, Hinkley C nuclear power station, waste incineration and underground coal gasification).
We need to bring political pressure on HM Treasury to get them to drop this (and ideally the other biomass projects) from the UK Guarantee Scheme. For joint letter and a short film see here. FOE have organised an email alert to the 6 Bristol MPs asking them to bring pressure. If you are a Bristol resident please visit http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/biodiversity/press_for_change/stop_public_money_burn_forests_41618.html and tell your friends. Mr Paul Spence, Head of Infrastructure UK has written to Charlotte Leslie MP with the usual spin about biomass and saying the Treasury do not do any independent research into the environmental impacts of the projects they support – only financial due dilligence. This is an abdication of responsibility and must be challenged. We need letters written, questions asked in the house…
Helius are looking loans from banks including Lloyds, RBS and Santander. Do you bank with any of them? Let us know. We urgently need to build local reputational pressure on these banks. They are also looking for equity investors (see here for a list of large shareholders which includes 3 Scottish multi-millionaires, Hendersons Equity Fund and Fidelity). The Helius Energy AGM is coming up at the end of March in London. Fancy buying some shares and asking some awkward questions? Get in touch.
If Helius succeed in funding the Avonmouth power station it will open the floodgates to them building more – including at least one in the Southampton area.
Biomass and bio-energy does not have to count the carbon emitted when the tree actually burns as it is assumed