Blackrod Biomass Plant

The consultation period for commenting on a new biomass plant has officially ended. The full application can be found here.

The  4MWe plant  at Markland Farm (Douglas Valley golf Course area), was approved three years ago. The applicant has requested to extend the time limit restriction for the development to commence.  The application was considered at Blackrod Town Council, last week. Local councillors appeared frustrated at being denied the opportunity to debate the application in full.  Perhaps without precedence, a request from a member of the public to speak on the application was denied by Councillor Pat Barrow

The member of the public who wished to speak on the application has asked us to publish a letter with his concerns which is below.

“Planning application 86393/11

Dear Ms. Williams, 

                I read with interest the GMP comments posted on the web site, as the suggestions do seem to ensure that the proposed development will stand out in this green belt location.

I went back to the original application to see what had been proposed but I could not find any detailed information. In fact the following comment in the agent’s letter of the 16/10/2008 was all I could find, “modern agricultural green units designed and constructed by Wearings”.  It does not seem correct that this proposal should be considered without some indication of what it will look like, as the lack of this detail does not allow comments to be made on this aspect of the proposal.

The lack of information regarding the building appearance needs be addressed as I am sure that Wearings make many buildings – not all of them being suitable in this green belt location.

Whilst looking through the original application I found it very hard to identify what has actually been agreed. Due to the late, and significant, change to the development the D&A statement, Supporting statement, and EIA screening do not actually cover the development as agreed. Therefore the applicant should create an up to date and comprehensive suite of documentation covering this new application.

This consolidation of the proposal information would also be of great use to anyone looking at the proposal as currently it is very difficult to decide what data is relevant or not due to the fragmented nature of the information supporting the previous application. Currently analysing the proposal is somewhat akin to a paper chase.

When looking through the information I was unable to identify how the development is to be connected to the national grid. If you are aware of this detail I would be grateful if you could point me towards it if it has not been provided could you ask the applicant for the details.

While I was reviewing the original application I was reminded that there was very little information regarding the technical aspects of the gasification equipment (A sales type brochure being the only information provided). Without this information it is impossible to fully assess the proposal and its environmental impacts.

A confirmation from the manufactures of the amounts of fuel required by the facility is required, as the agent in their letter of the 16/10/2008 states that in the region of 61 tonnes a day will be used by the plant. This is at odds with a statement by the equipment manufacturer that a 1Mw facility will consume 1 T/hr (at 15% moisture content). This equates to 96 T/day for a 4 Mw facility. The wood used by this facility will have a much higher moisture content than 15% (up to a content of 50%). So using a figure of 30% would mean that the facility would use 109T/day. (Appendix 1).

Confirmation by the manufacturer of the typical traffic movements that would be caused by the proposal should be given. Appendix 1 shows the bulk density of wood chips to be 0.2 T/m3 the bulk density chopped log wood is 50% greater i.e. 0.3 T/m3. This would suggest that the daily fuel deliveries would be 31 20T tipper lorries (62 vehicle movements).  This assumes that 20T tippers are used and every one is full. There is nothing to say that smaller vehicles or partial loads could not be used thereby dramatically increasing the traffic movements.

The visual appearance of the exhaust gasses should also be explained as the facility generates somewhere in the region of 8 Mw of thermal energy, much of it being emitted to atmosphere. An indication of its appearance would seem to be a reasonable request given its green belt location.

The typical emissions from the stack should be identified by the equipment manufacturer. The agent in their letter of the 16/10/2008 makes a number of statements regarding the emissions. Confirmation of these facts by the equipment manufacturer would seem to be appropriate as they will be responsible / accountable for compliance to them.

There are links between gasification of treated wood and harmful emissions (Appendix 2) and the agent in their letter simply asserts that treated wood will not be burnt without explaining how this will be achieved. Therefore the possible emissions and mitigation strategies are relevant and should be included in this application.

It has also been stated that the proposed equipment can not use treated wood, once again this should be confirmed by the manufacturer as they seem to state that it can use treated wood (Appendix 3).

The provision of this information is vital to allow a proper understanding of the environmental implications of this proposal.”

The appendices can be found at Appendices

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