Please object to Barnsley biofuel power station

Barnsley Council have asked for comment on a planning application (2009/1539). In October 2009 Biofuelwatch’s email alert called for people to object to Rocpower Ltd’s planning application to build a 7 MW biofuel power station at Barugh Green, which would burn about 10,000 tonnes of vegetable oil every year. Barnsley Council asked for more information on Air Quality impacts, but subsequent queries were not addressed. In November 2009 Rocpower withdrew the application. Rocpower have just resubmitted a revised application after a delay of nearly two years – so well done everyone for slowing down this proposal.

The application is virtually unchanged although additional information on Air Quality has now been included. This had to deal with concerns from Barnsley Council regarding nitrogen oxide. In order to deal with all pollution, the height of the stack may almost double which could have visual issues for the local area.

Information on fuel feedstock and sustainability is unchanged but once again contradictory. They say, ‘the site will make use of various types of fuel sources e.g. Tall Oil (a by-product from the pulping of pine trees), palm oil etc. that are commercially available on the market.’ And, ‘The facility proposes to utilise a range of biofuels at the Barnsley site. The exact choice of fuel will depend on market forces. Under the current market conditions tall oil is one of the most favoured options and is considered to be the worst case option in terms of pollutant emissions’. However their fuel specification sheets only refer to wood pitch blended with high & low fractions (tall oil) and crude palm oil despite giving an assurance elsewhere that they will not use palm oil! The application also refers to co-products but this is worded so vaguely that it would still allow the power station to be run on palm oil and other virgin vegetable oil. Co-products already have a use in the food and oleo-chemical sectors and are derived from virgin oil and are therefore linked to deforestation.

Germany has up to 2000 CHP plants virtually all running on palm oil and Italy has the largest biofuel power station in Europe also running on palm oil, as it is by far the cheapest vegetable oil on the market. If the power station were run on palm oil only, it would require about 4,000 hectares of plantations to produce its fuel every year – and even more if other types of fuel were used.

Tall oil is a byproduct of the pulp and paper industry.  Monoculture tree plantations for pulp and paper are anything but sustainable: They replace forests and other ecosystems, pollute and deplete soils and water and often have devastating impacts on local communities, too. Tall oil supplies are already fully used, mainly by the chemical industry – there is no waste to spare.  Tall oil is in very short supply.

Rocpower opened their first tall-oil plant in Wakefield in late 2009.  It is similar to the one proposed here and attracted complaints about smoke from its neighbours almost as soon as the first engine was switched on. Rocpower are now only able to avoid action under the Clean Air Act by switching the entire plant off when the wind is blowing in the direction of the complainants. Even with the raised stack height, the proposed power station will still worsen nitrogen dioxide levels, as well as those of, PAH, PM10 and PM 2.5.

Please write to to object to this application. If possible, please personalise the letter below before sending it. Many thanks.  If you would like to send an objection letter by post, the address is Planning Department, Barnsley Council, Huddersfield Road, Darton, Barnsley, S75 5ND .

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