The £200m biomass plant with enough energy to power Preston

The new biomass facility at Red Scar could produce enough electricity to power the whole of Preston
The new biomass facility at Red Scar could produce enough electricity to power the whole of Preston
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Major plans could see a £200m green energy plant with the potential to power the whole of Preston.

Developers say it will burn largely biomass waste generating low carbon electricity which could be sold cheaply to local businesses.

Now residents are being invited to weigh in on plans for the privately funded Energy Recovery Facility.

Longridge Road Energy Centre, earmarked for Red Scar Industrial Estate off Junction 31a on the M6, would also reduce landfill and generate jobs - 500 during construction and 40 jobs on a permanent basis.

A dowry - made up of a visitor centre for the area and a £65k fund to boost local projects - would also be thrown in, said developers Miller Turner.

Gregory Ewing, CEO of Miller Turner, said: “Our team has great experience of developing energy projects, including plants like Longridge Road Energy Centre.

“It will use well-proven, efficient technology which is currently in operation at numerous energy recovery facilities across the UK and Europe.

“The plant will operate under a strict licensing system administered by the Environment Agency.

“Red Scar is an excellent site for our proposals. The motorway and local road connections mean there is no need for delivery vehicles to go through residential areas.

“The technology will ensure no odours are present outside the plant and will operate well within strict environmental regulations.

“The project is a huge opportunity for Preston and Lancashire to generate stable, low carbon electricity and, in the process, help to sustain or create jobs and reduce landfill, which is relatively high in Lancashire and damaging to our environment.”

The company is now running a public consultation so that locals can have their say.

Mr Ewing added: “We plan to build a visitor centre for local schools, we will invest in enhancing local biodiversity and we will create a £65,000 community fund to support local projects.

“This public consultation is the first stage in our commitment to local communities and so we hope people will get in touch.”

Around 60 per cent of the waste at Longridge Road Energy Centre will be biomass, making the energy that is generated from it low carbon.

It would have the capacity to use up to 395,000 tonnes of residual waste per year – the waste left over from household and commercial waste after recyclable material is removed – as a fuel.

The energy plant would generate up to 40 Megawatts (MW) of low carbon electricity, enough to power up to 89,000 homes. According to Preston City Council there are 63,000 households in the Preston area.Distribution will be either through the electricity grid, or via a direct connection to businesses and other major local energy users – known as a ‘private wire’.

Because the electricity provided directly would be cheaper than electricity purchased via the national grid, bosses at Miller Turner say that businesses that are connected would become more competitive, helping to preserve local employment and potentially attracting new employers to the area creating hundreds of new jobs. Any surplus electricity remaining would be fed into the national grid.

Although the design of the building is being finalised, the proposed development will include a building of up to about 35 to 40 metres in height, 170 metres in length and 70 metres in width. There will be one or two slim chimney stacks about 85 metres high and up to three metres in diameter.

Bosses at Miller Turner are aiming to submit a planning application for the energy plant to Lancashire County Council by Spring of this year.

The process

Longridge Road Energy Centre will take residual waste to use as a fuel to produce energy. The combustion process produces heat, which is used to create steam. This then drives a turbine to generate electricity and recover the energy from the waste. The electricity is then sold to the electricity grid, or to customers in the local area via a ‘private wire’ direct connection.

Councillors 'reserve judgment'

Preston City Council (PCC) Coun Jonathan Saksena, who represents Ribbleton, says he is reserving his judgment on the plans until more details are revealed.

“Until I’m convinced I’m not going to support it,” he said.

“It’s what they are not telling us that’s important.

“There’s an awful lot that’s not said. How are they going to manage their transport? How are they going to burn their waste?

“There’s a similar plant in Runcorn which has caused a lot of problems - people vomiting because the smell is so bad.”

Coun Brian Rollo, who is cabinet member for environment and who also represents Ribbleton at PCC, told the Post he would be attending a consultation meeting to find out more.

He said: “I need to go and talk to them.

“The site is not far from the crematorium or the Guild Wheel.

“We need to have a lot of reassurance about pollution coming from it.

“It would be good to have the power to shut it down if it does start to pollute.

“It’s on the other side of the motorway from Preston so if it does pollute it would tend to blow it towards Grimsargh. Goodness knows what they are going to be burning.

“It’s quite a large volume of rubbish to ship in and ship out and that’s going to have an affect on Longridge Road.

“All this needs to be looked at and sorted out.”

Will there be air pollution or odour?

A statement outlining plans says: “Longridge Road Energy Centre will use technology that is well established, closely monitored, and in use safely at numerous sites across the UK and abroad.

“It will be constructed to the highest environmental standards and will be the subject of strict environmental regulations.

“These regulations will be embodied in an Environment Agency (EA) operating permit. The permit is issued after close scrutiny of a detailed application.

“The permit will require comprehensive environmental monitoring to be undertaken throughout the operational life of the Energy Centre. Monitoring results will be reported to the EA, which has the power to modify or halt operations if necessary. All waste deliveries will be unloaded within the plant and lorries will be either enclosed or covered to prevent dust and litter.

Any odours will be completely contained within the plant by maintaining negative air pressure in the waste reception building and feeding that air to the combustion chamber where odours are destroyed.”

Bosses outline advantages

Energy and environmental benefits bosses say the Longridge Road Energy Centre will be:

++ Reducing our reliance on coal and gas for energy – helping to cut down our carbon emissions

++ Contributing positively to tackling climate change

++ Combined with recycling, contributing to minimising landfill and its harmful methane emissions

++ Reducing reliance on energy imports from abroad

++ Providing a dependable baseload electricity supply

++ Preventing odour emissions associated with uncontrolled waste-handling and treatment

++ Providing energy to local businesses at low and stable prices

Consultation

A pre-application public consultation is now under way for a period of six weeks until Friday, March 29.

Miller Turner is holding two public drop-in sessions to provide stakeholders and members of the public an opportunity to discuss the proposals with members of the project team on the following dates:

++ Wednesday, March 13, 4pm - 8pm at Norman Jepson Beefeater in Bluebell Way, Fulwood, Preston, PR2 5PZ

++ Thursday, March 14, 10am – 2.30pm at Norman Jepson Beefeater in Bluebell Way, Fulwood, Preston, PR2 5PZ

++ To find out more or to contact the Consultation Team for Longridge Road Energy Centre

++ Call 0800 032 1880

++ Email info@longridgeroadenergy.com

++ Write to Freepost Longridge Road Energy Centre

For more see: longridgeroadenergy.com