Pulled biomass plan a ‘devastating blow’

Councillors have vowed to look at alternative options for the future of a site earmarked for a biomass plant after developers dropped their plans.

Business leaders, councillors and communities are still coming to the terms with the news that the proposed £300m plant – which was expected to create 350 new jobs – will not go ahead.

Senior councillors say they will dust themselves down and work on new plans to market the site and bring in other businesses.

British independent renewable energy developer RES’ 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 positions at the plant, along with the Community Benefit Fund, have all been lost.

Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “The decision by RES is a devastating blow for the local community and we’ll be working with all interested parties to ensure that we look at all available opportunities to support further development of the site.

“We’re fully supportive of the recent comments by Port of Blyth and we’ll be working with them to come up with long term plans for this site and others.

“The decision by RES is a damning response to the failure of the coalition government to develop a credible energy policy and we’re feeling this especially in Northumberland.

“We’re world leaders in wind technology in Blyth at Narec and we have a real interest in energy policy.

“We’ve now got to dust ourselves down from the latest snub from a government that seems to have forgotten about Northumberland.”

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 the important employer and economic engine of the region.

Martin Lawlor, chief executive at Port of Blyth, which owns the land on which RES’ North Blyth Biomass Power Station was proposed, said the port still has other schemes it is working on for the future to expand and create economic activity.

“It’s disappointing, but we’ve seen it coming,” he added.