Biomass plan gets council’s support

A KEY energy company in Northumberland is moving forward with biomass fuel after being given planning permission for a new facility.

Plans to construct a biomass fuel handling facility and ancillary infrastructure at Rio Tinto Alcan in Lynemouth, have been given the green light by Northumberland County Council’s planning and environment committee, despite concerns from residents and councillors.

Concerns were raised by nearby residents about the speed that site traffic could get up to as they pass through the village and the increase in vehicles, with an estimated 180 wagons using the road from the current estimate of 108.

Tom Oliver, from the Woodhorn Village Residents’ Association, said: “In the past we have raised objections to a number of planning applications on HGV numbers, but this is a big increase.

“The proposed increase in HGV traffic, already high for a C class road, itensifies the pressure on the village.

“The noise, pollution and nuisance produced by existing traffic levels already impacts upon residents’ ability to enjoy their outdoor environment, further increases will exacerbate the situation.”

The new storage facility would comprise up to ten pellet storage silos with a capacity of up to 75,000 tonnes, and would be located within the existing coal yard.

Ancillary equipment and services would include electrical infrastructure, dust abatement equipement and fire detection and supression systems.

The biomass fuel handling facility would result in the entire redevelopment of the existing coal stock yard at the power station and assist in enabling the conversion of the power station from coal firing to biomass firing and facilitate power generation by renewable sources.

Senior planning officer Joe Nugent told the committee they were aware the area was an “accident traffic blackspot”, and they would look at the speed of traffic, and work with Alcan to secure financial help to carry out work to install an interactive speed sign and monitor the speed of traffic.

Coun Brian Douglas said: “People don’t adhere to the 40mph limit. Vehicles go at 50/60mph and I think we should look at this, because I think 40 is too much.

“A 30mph limit would be more realistic, as the speed through Woodhorn is too fast.”

Coun Paul Kelly said: “The speed or weight of the traffic isn’t the major issue, it is the leavings of the traffic and the environment distress that it causes, because there is a significant amount of dross that is left as a result of HGVs.

“This is a major employer and if it switches over to biomass it will continue to be a major employer, and there is a duty upon Alcan to take care of the local residents and to minimise the impact of these HGVs.

“The road is perfectly capable of taking significant numbers of HGVs, it is the imact on the people living nearby that is the issue.”

Coun Alan Thompson said: “I would support the objections from Woodhorn Residents’ Association. The Woodhorn junction has a gory past. The number of HGVs is an issue that has arisen before.

“No one wants to jeopardise employment at Alcan, but the movements are too big. The quality of life is likely to be impaired, and I would suggest an alternative route.”

The committee unanimously agreed the report.