Blyth biomass plans fall through

A computer-generated aerial view of the North Blyth Biomass Power Station. For illustrative purposes only.
A computer-generated aerial view of the North Blyth Biomass Power Station. For illustrative purposes only.

Plans for a new biomass plant in Blyth have fallen through – resulting in the loss of a potential 350 jobs.

British independent renewable energy developer RES has today announced it is ceasing work on its biomass power station project at the Port of Blyth.

RES’ decision follows the withdrawal of a key project partner in late 2013 due to ongoing uncertainty in UK energy policy.

The decision to end the biomass power station project means the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds of investment into the Blyth estuary and wider Northumberland economy.

The 300 construction job opportunities and 50 full time, long-term operational jobs at the plant and annual Community Benefit Fund will also be lost.

The project would have brought a long-term partnership with the Port of Blyth in terms of fuel transport, handling and occupancy, helping to secure further growth of this important employer and economic engine of the region. It would also have provided a magnet for economic growth in Northumberland and the North East region.

RES’ chief operating officer for the UK, Gordon MacDougall, said: “Despite the support the project enjoys locally due to the significant benefits it would bring to the local and regional economy, the North Blyth Biomass Power Station currently faces insurmountable investment barriers due to uncertain Government energy policy

“It’s bitterly disappointing for RES that we are unable to bring this exciting project forward, and deliver the significant boost it would have represented for the Blyth and Northumberland economy. However, the gradual erosion of support for dedicated biomass leaves us with no other option.”

RES’ announcement also calls into question the Government’s commitment to renewable energy and independent generators, at a time when it appears to be supporting polluting fossil fuels - including potential, but unproven, shale gas - and costly nuclear power. In addition, the Government’s preference for the conversion of existing coal fired power stations to biomass over dedicated biomass generating capacity is at odds with the urgent need to bridge the looming capacity crunch in the UK energy system.

RES has called upon the Government to clarify its support for renewable energy as a vital part of the UK energy mix, in order to ensure that independent generators and major investors alike have the certainty needed to continue investing in UK infrastructure.