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Chemical Science Scotland
Grangemouth Biomass plant goes before Falkirk Council Planning Committee

Developers claim they are not pursuing plans to bring a biomass energy plant to the Port of Grangemouth despite the proposal going before council planners.

Forth Energy’s £465 million project – which had been granted planning permission by The Scottish Government in 2012 following a public inquiry – was shelved five years ago when Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) announced it was withdrawing from the scheme.

At the time Forth Energy, a joint partnership between Forth Ports and SSE, stated: “We are not continuing with plans to develop the Grangemouth wood fuelled renewable energy project. We are investigating options to attract other developers to take the project forward.”

Forth Energy subsequently pulled out of a similar project in Rosyth and withdrew its application for another proposed biomass plant in Dundee.

Now Forth Ports Ltd has lodged an application with Falkirk Council, which will be discussed at the planning committee next Tuesday, to modify a planning condition associated with the Grangemouth project.

The current proposal wants basic site investigation and preparation works to be carried out prior to full remediation of the site being completed. However, the restriction that prevents occupation of the facility prior to the completion of remediation works would still remain.

This week a Forth Ports spokesperson said: “Forth Ports has no current plans to develop the Grangemouth wood fuelled renewable energy project. A planning application has been submitted to Falkirk Council to maintain alignment with the existing Scottish Government consent for the project should a developer wish to take it forward at some point in the future.”

Back in 2014 Grangemouth Community Council members who had fought against the plans were pleased the project had stalled, but warned it could still go ahead in the future.

Walter Inglis said: “The vast majority of the Grangemouth community were against it in the first place, so I’m quite happy to see the situation stalling. But you can’t jump in and say this will be the end of it.”

Scottish Government planning permission will lapse in June 3, 2020 so any work on the project would have to be underway before that.

The Forth Ports application comes at a time when another biomass project which has been given planning permission in Grangemouth.

In December last year Edinburgh-based Green Investment Group (GIG) announced financial close on the acquisition of a 50 per cent stake in the Earl’s Gate Energy Centre (EGEC) – a 21 Megawatt combined heat facility due to start construction this year.

When it becomes operational in 2021 it is hoped the EGEC will prevent 216,000 tonnes of household and commercial waste from entering landfill annually and will also provide heat and power to local industry, including nearby chemical firm CalaChem.

Edward Northam, head of GIG Europe, said: “The EGEC will help secure a reliable, low-cost, green heat and power supply for local industry, further supporting the decarbonisation of the Scottish economy.”

Neil Partlett, chief executive officer of CalaChem, added: “This will help secure jobs, meaning CalaChem remains a valuable economic asset to the region. We are excited the project has reached this milestone and look forward to construction commencing.”