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Clean Air Group welcomes biomass plant delay

Peel Group has postponed its plans for the 20MW power facility near Trafford to ‘consider options for improving the sustainability of the scheme’

Manchester-based protest campaign the Clean Air Group has welcomed delays to the construction of Peel Energy’s £70 million Barton biomass plant in Davyhulme.

The £70 million plant near Trafford had already been issued with a permit by the Environment Agency with operations expected to start in 2016.

An artists' impression of Peel Energy's proposed Barton Renewable Energy Plant

An artists’ impression of Peel Energy’s proposed Barton Renewable Energy Plant

The proposed facility would have capacity to process 200,000 tonnes of waste wood per year, with around 70% recovered from construction and demolition sources, as well as some material from local household waste and recycling centres.

According to Peel Energy, the renewable energy subsidiary of property and holdings firm Peel Group, the plant would also generate around 20MW of power for local homes.

But Peel has now confirmed work on the project will be suspended while it considers a ‘sustainable’ local district heating scheme for local developments and businesses in the surrounding area.

The postponement was welcomed by the Clean Air Group, which has undertaken a lengthy campaign to halt the project over concerns that the plant will emit air pollutants close to an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).

Pete Kilvert, chairman of the group, added: “This is very encouraging news and we wish to place on record our thanks to Trafford council for continuing its dialogue with the Peel Group and all councillors who have supported our campaign on behalf of the community. This is a great day for Trafford and Greater Manchester.”

The postponement was also well received by Trafford council, which had previously lost an appeal against communities secretary Eric Pickles’ decision to grant the facility planning permission in 2012 (see airqualitynews.com story).

The minister’s intervention came as part of a nine-day public inquiry which overturned the council’s original decision to turn down planning for the plant in 2011 over particle emission concerns.

Councillor Sean Anstee, leader of Trafford council, said: “I am pleased that Peel is reconsidering its plans. It demonstrates that Trafford Council is able to influence the firm on behalf of residents in Davyhulme, Urmston and Flixton.

“Our intervention and continued lobbying has delayed construction that otherwise would have started by now and presents a new opportunity to secure a better outcome for all.”

However, a spokesperson for Peel said that there was no suggestion that the biomass facility had been thrown out altogether – with development due to resume in the ‘coming weeks’.

Jon England, Peel Energy project manager, said: “We have taken the opportunity to consider options for improving the sustainability of the scheme by the supply of heat to local developments and industry and will continue to work closely with Trafford Council officers and its senior elected members.”

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