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Work on £100m straw-fired power station to begin in summer

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: June 16, 2011

POWER: An artist's impression of the £100m Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant.

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WORK on a controversial straw-fired power station will begin in the summer.

Plans for the £100 million Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant, on land off Boston Road, were first announced in 2007.

And after years of consultation with residents, it has now been confirmed that work will be completed by the end of 2013.

The 40MW renewable energy plant will provide electricity for 65,000 homes and provide free heat energy to public buildings in Sleaford, such as a new swimming pool.

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Pollution levels will also be down on traditional power stations, with more than 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide saved each year.

A series of safety improvements to local roads have also been made after the community voiced concerns over traffic congestion caused by delivery vehicles.

A new footpath and cycle way have been constructed in Boston Road in the nearby village of Kirkby-la-Thorpe. And young people will benefit from a £75,000 donation from the facility's owner, Eco2 Ltd, to fund engineering apprenticeships at the plant itself.

Up to 80 jobs will be created for fuel delivery services and the operation of the facility.

Councillor Richard Wright, executive board member for sustainability at North Kesteven District Council, said the new facility would bring a number of benefits to the area.

He said: "The council has worked closely with Eco2 to ensure maximum community benefit from this scheme and it is heartening that progress being made behind the scenes will soon lead to progress being seen on the ground.

"Of greatest value will be the provision of free heat to public buildings in Sleaford. Given all of the work the council has undertaken to reduce energy use and the carbon footprint of its own buildings, to now have access to the generation of clean energy provided through a sustainable source has far reaching community benefits in reduced cost and pollution."

Dr Andrew Toft, director of projects at Eco2, said a newsletter would be created to keep residents updated with the project's progress.

He said: "We look forward to starting work. In the current economic climate it has been a hard time to raise finance.

"The project will bring with it significant benefits and will make a big difference to the local community and economy. We are keen to keep the community informed with progress of the construction phase through further newsletters and updates to our website."

Some members of the local community remain in opposition to the project.

Stephen Bailey, 61, said: "It's an obsolete and inefficient technology being built in the wrong place. It's not a Nimby issue, it's a Sleaford-wide issue. It just seems like a travesty to me."

Richard Starkess, 53, said: "I just don't understand why it's so close to the town. I think it's going to kill the place and cause traffic congestion. No-one will want to live here anymore and it's going to turn into a ghost town."

Eco2 explained all environmental and planning issues had been considered during the application.

Dr Toft said: "The Government acknowledges generating electricity from biomass is critical to meeting its renewable energy targets. The technology is clean, efficient and reliable.

"The transport aspects of the project were thoroughly examined and approved when the plant was granted planning consent; nevertheless Eco2 will be doing all that it can to ensure minimal impact during construction and onwards."

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  • ColinLincs  |  June 19 2011, 2:13PM

    Without the need to comply with EU directives on renewable energy there is no way that these projects would be built at massive cost to the taxpayer in terms of capital costs and subsidies, not to mention emissions levels which make coal fired power stations look squeaky clean.

  • rogcal  |  June 18 2011, 3:25PM

    What a shame the "townies" don't want a renewable energy resource on their doorstep. It's OK for them to support green energy when it doesn't affect them but it's different when it does. Now you will begin to learn what those of us who live in close proximity to wind turbines have been putting up with for a number of years. At least a biomass power station will provide a number of "real" jobs for the local populace which is something that wind farms don't.

  • ranza1  |  June 18 2011, 9:56AM

    Magnum 451- Ref comments on gas emissions, check Gov. reports on fuel emissions comparison ,Sep 2006 and Nov 2008. Biomass combustion emissions are shown to be 80 times higher than gas for most hazardous air pollutant fine particles. There is no minimum safe level of exposure to this pollutant and any increase directly correlates to increase in deaths, asthma, COPD, bronchitis and cardio disease , if we care the priority should be reduction not to deliberately increase this pollutant. There are currently a number of vastly cleaner alternatives to burning biomass including natural gas which gives far better performance almost double the useful power out . Straw is currently a scarce resource with many uses which questions the decision to burn it. In bale form it is high volume, low energy content adding to transport impact. I realise there are current negotiations to dramatically increase subsidy paid for burning biomass in the UK, should they achieve the requested parity with wind the Sleaford plant would appear to qualify for a basic subsidy in excess of £30 million/yr. It is hoped that some of this cash will be used to minimise the air quality degradation and health impact of this plant in the Sleaford area. It will be among the dirtiest power sources available so can I ask for your reasons to support it. I can only support gas because it is proven to be far less hazardous per unit of useful power produced. By the way I enjoy your Magnum lollies. Rgds Brian

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  • Magnum451  |  June 17 2011, 7:12PM

    "ranta1" - why contradict yourself? You keep making statements about emmissions however you seem to favour gas however doesn't that give off dangerous emmissions through the combustion process. Appears you still evade the question of what alternative do we have. I suggest you do your homework on the "gas" front as you are well off the mark. I have no fear of the lights going out, generator installed with double pole switch to keep my lights on!

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  • ranza1  |  June 16 2011, 9:07PM

    Magnum 451- I suggest we apply joined up thinking, due diligence and duty of care to at least try and protect air quality for the next generation. Please explain the logic in throwing £billions at dirty technology that we are aware will deliberately degrade the environment and impact on health when there are current cleaner more efficient alternatives ,I understand gas reserves will provide needs for the next 250 yrs so your fears of lights going out appear unfounded. We should be investing in clean alternatives and I "rant" as you say because those charged with protecting our future are so obviously failing miserably. You obviously feel I am wrong so please explain why. With reference to wind turbines what you see is what you get, with combustion it is unfortunately what you cannot see that kills. Kind Regards Brian W.

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  • Magnum451  |  June 16 2011, 7:48PM

    Well Brian, I think your pen name should be "rant" rather than "ranza1". What would you suggest we do to keep the lights on? Maybe a couple of hundred wind turbines around the Woodhall Spa area would suffice!

  • ranza1  |  June 16 2011, 1:29PM

    There are many claims being made for this project that sadly do not withstand scrutiny. Claim of cutting pollution compared with alternative combustion for energy power plants, Eco2 data displays sulphur dioxide produced per unit of power will be 71 times higher than equivalent gas, NOX will be many times higher as will PM the most hazardous air pollutant which directly correlates to increase in deaths with no minimum safe level. We know chlorine content of straw is 20 times higher than other biomass a problem not experienced with alternative combustion processes, chlorine indicates dioxin creation another serious hazard. The air pollution created by this plant will equate to exhaust emissions from diesel vehicles travelling additional 4 billion km around the locality each year (NOX emissions 11.27g/s. EURO 6 vehicle reg .08g/km) The claim of free energy requires scrutiny when the project will need £millions of expenditure in infrastructure, the plant power output will need de-rating in order to provide good quality CHP and we will all be required to subsidise the operation. Any claim of sustainability requires scrutiny when we are aware straw yield can vary by 40% year on year, 25% can be rendered unfit for purpose during storage and 12% reported to be lost due to arson as detailed in report to Parliament. Straw is now the favoured feedstock for provision of cellulosic ethanol removing food competition. Straw is being used locally in construction, Drax intends to utilise all available straw within 70 mile radius and currently constructing satellite processing plants which will have serious impact on supply stream in this area . The farmers have to consider ploughing in straw to replace fossil fuel based fertiliser ,this cuts out thousands of HGV journeys. UK current biomass burning projects will require importing 50 million tonnes plus from Brazil etc. The Gov have confirmed use of biomass combustion for energy provision will add £billions to NHS costs due to air quality degradation. The UK is already under threat of serious EU financial penalties for failure to reduce hazardous air pollution, we surely need truly clean renewable energy in Lincolnshire not deliberate air quality degradation obscured by spin.