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Plan for new gas and biomass plant in Southampton
A NEW power station could be built on the site of a former school in Southampton.
Council chiefs are set to rubberstamp the plans for the gas and biomass plant next month – and it could be built within two years.
They hope the new Energy Centre will heat the homes of thousands of city residents and cut council energy bills by up to £500,000 a year.
As previously reported, the city council has signed up to the Government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, which will see energy companies fund improvements to thousands of thermally inefficient homes.
The authority is in the process of selecting a company to carry out the work, which will see improvement works carried out at up to 21,000 council homes in Southampton, the New Forest, Eastleigh, Winchester and Portsmouth.
A major part of that work is now likely to include building the new Energy Centre which council chiefs say will be about as big as a large house, with an industrial chimney on the side.
The site of the former Hightown Secondary School in Thornhill, which closed in the mid-1980s, has been identified as the location for the plant. Much of the site is occupied by the Eastpoint Centre, which will be unaffected by the plans.
The centre would feature a modern, efficient gas boiler, with a back-up biomass plant.
The gas would be pumped through pipes to heat homes, while the electricity produced as a by-product would then be able to be used on the council’s grid, allowing the authority to save significantly on its bills and possibly sell surplus electricity to other authorities or businesses.
Gas produced at the plant will heat three tower blocks and 88 smaller blocks of flats in Thornhill, reaching a total of 1,050 homes.
That may then be extended to a further 550 houses and flats, a number of schools and the Antelope Park shopping centre.
If approval is given at November’s full council meeting, work could begin early next year and homes could be connected to the new plant by April 2015.
The Thornhill scheme is likely to cost £15million for the construction of the plant and the installation of pipes to properties.
The council will put up to £1.5million of direct funding into the project, while £7million will be put into it from the authority’s housing revenue account, which contains rent from council tenants.
The rest of the funding will be put in by the energy company, which council chiefs hope to announce in February.
Another £15million from the energy company will be spent on insulation upgrades for hundreds of council homes in the area.
City council leader Cllr Simon Letts said: “The aim of this is to lower fuel poverty, increase the number of jobs and training opportunities available and save the council on energy bills – it’s a massive win-win.
“It is the brainchild of the former leader of the council, Richard Williams, who did all of the groundwork on it.”
Council housing boss Cllr Warwick Payne added: “This scheme could deliver a host of benefits for Thornhill and the city as a whole.”
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