Saturday, 22 May 2010


There was always more than a faint whiff of green wash about the proposed development of a 25 MWe Power Plant biofuel fed (Palm Oil from Indonesia) power station in Newport Docks. The residents of Pill, interested parties (including Plaid locally) and green pressure groups successfully worked with Newport City Councillors to get the original application thrown out. however, these things are never clear cut and VO-GEN ENERGY LTD who want to build power station (which will generate power with a marine diesel engine) have appealed to the National Assembly for Wales against Newport City Councils decision to refuse planning permission in respect of the above development. 

The City Council has endeavoured to maintain the quality of life and clean air in one of the most deprived area of Newport. Local considerations aside (and there are plenty of them) there are some global implications if permission is given to build a biofuel power plant in a city. There is a degree of irony here as much has rightly been made of the City's fair-trade status and Green credentials. World class sustainable dwellings are being built at Mariner’s Quay, not to mention the development of Newport High School at Bettws and the stated intention to exceed this specification at Hartridge High School. 

Such achievements should not be cast aside in favour of lowering standards and allowing permission to be granted for a dirty, smelly and unsustainable development such as a diesel generated biofuel power plant. At the Ensus biofuels plant on Teeside, local residents have complained bitterly about having to endure the sickening smell from this new plant. The owners can get away from it, but the residents cannot.

Decisions taken locally can have global implications:

Burning plant based materials uses land which should be used for growing food as world population increases and can leave the atmosphere worse off

The cheapest biofuel currently used is palm oil. This is a primary cause of rainforest deforestation, disenfranchisement of indigenous peoples, and destruction of 10 million hectares of Indonesian peatland. Stripping primary forest for palm oil production also endangers species survival for tree dwellers such as the orangutan in Borneo and Sumatra

The EU did not foresee the problems raised by its policy to get 10% of Europe's road fuels from plants and has promised new guidelines to ensure that its target is not damaging.

Biofuels possibly have a negative impact on the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere under current EU regulations.

With biofuels, we are always going to be putting out more pollution than real renewables such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, tidal, and wave power, so no matter how efficient we make the production of the biofuels, they will still produce more pollution. Even with the best biofuel in the world, we will never come close to reducing air pollution as much as wind or solar.

So lets consider all the implications of granting permission for a biofuels plant here in Newport. There is a very real concern that the destruction caused by growing them will be virtually irreversible. We only have this one planet, so let us err on the side of caution and work to make sure that after due consideration this appeal is rejected in Newport and by the National Assembly.


Newport Against Biofuels (NBB) were out and about today in Newport City Centre with a stall talking to people and letting them know what's going on and gathering support for the campaign.

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