Residents and environmental campaigners to protest against ‘dirty and unsustainable’ biomass gasifier plans for Avonmouth

Residents and environmental campaigners to protest against ‘dirty and unsustainable’ biomass gasifier plans for Avonmouth

For immediate release 3rd November 2014

Bristol City Councillors are to be met by air pollution and environmental protesters before Wednesday’s Development Committee meeting. The meeting will decide the fate of Nexterra and Balfour Beatty’s planning application for a biomass gasifier in Avonmouth. Avon Coalition Against Big Biofuels [1] is organising a peaceful protest against the proposed gasifier in advance of the decision. Some of the protesters will be wearing dust masks to illustrate the threats of increased air pollution and wood dust exposure in an already heavily polluted area.

Last week, Avon Coalition Against Big Biofuels, Avonmouth Dust Forum [2] and the national environmental campaign group Biofuelwatch [3] sent a detailed letter to all Bristol Councillors highlighting several reasons why the biomass gasifier application should be rejected under national and local planning policies [4]. The letter warns that the gasifier could significantly worsen long-standing problems with wood dust in Avonmouth. Wood dust is a known cause of cancer and is also linked to respiratory, nasal and skin problems. It further points out that the proposed plant would have an efficiency of around 20%, which is less than virtually any other type of biomass power plant. It would burn 75,000 tonnes of waste wood that would be in high demand from existing industries such as wood-panel manufacturers.

Avonmouth resident Ian Robinson states: “For many years, Avonmouth residents have suffered from high levels of air pollution and wood dust. Many of us experience health problems or fear for our children’s long-term health. There are already six approved biomass plants and waste incinerators in Avonmouth. If built, each of these will worsen our air quality and impact public health further. Approving a seventh such plant would be unconscionable.

Michael Andrews from Avon Coalition Against Big Biofuels adds: “This plant will burn 75,000 tonnes of waste wood a year, much of it treated with toxic chemicals. This wood is in high demand from existing industries, especially panel board production. It will waste 80% of the energy contained in the wood, a worse record than other biomass power stations. We cannot see how such a plan could possibly be approved as a so-called sustainable development.

Nexterra and Balfour Beatty plan to source all of the waste wood from Boomeco. Boomeco admitted responsibility for last summer’s fly epidemic in Avonmouth and the company has been the focus of long-standing wood dust complaints. The companies claim that Boomeco would otherwise be exporting the wood to be burned in Sweden, however they provide no evidence to this effect. According to a Bristol City Council spokesperson, 90% of the waste wood which the City supplies to Boomeco is used to make wood panels, and not exported to be burned [5].

Photo opportunity:

5.30 pm, College Green, outside the City Hal, Bristol City Council, Bristol BS1 5TR

Contacts:
Michael Andrews, Avon Coalition Against Big Biofuels: Tel 0117 9682140
Ian Robinson, Avonmouth Dust Forum: Tel 07736 788539
Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch, Tel 0131-6232600

Notes:

[1] Avon Coalition Against Big Biofuel (www.avoncoalitionagainstbigbiofuels.org.uk/) is is a local campaign group formed to oppose the generation of electricity by fuels which are damaging to the planet and people.

[2] Avonmouth Dust Forum is a local residents’ group formed to monitor dust and other pollution which is dangerous to public health.

[3] Biofuelwatch (www.biofuelwatch.org.uk) is a UK/US campaign and research organisation that has been investigating the impacts of biofuels since 2006.

[4] The letter can be downloaded from http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2014/avonmouth-letter-to-councillors/

[5] See http://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/bristol-to-keep-close-eye-on-boomeco-wood-deal/

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