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Incoming council leader calls £300m power station plans a 'green wash'
Artist's impression of the new biomass plant design, as it would be seen from Foundry Lane, Southampton.
Southampton’S incoming council leader has dubbed new designs for a £300m power station in Southampton a “green wash”.
Helius Energy went back to the drawing board after its previous plans for a 100 megawatt wood-fuelled power station in the western docks sparked outrage.
The Daily Echo yesterday revealed the new plans released ahead of a 12-week consultation period during which the company hopes to win people round.
The revised plans would see it moved back a further 125m, its height reduced and three new possible designs, while the chimney stack has also been increased to 100m to avoid air pollution in the local area.
However, Councillor Richard Williams, leader of the Labour group, which opposed the plans in its manifesto, said he was not impressed.
He said: “It is cosmetic and does not change the underlying rationale of the development. It is environmentally wrong, it’s socially wrong and it’s a purely opportunistic development.”
Tory counterpart Councillor Royston Smith, who will tomorrow hand over the reins of power to Cllr Williams, said the designs would not go far enough to put residents’ minds at rest.
He said: “It is still huge and you can’t have this great big monstrosity that would sit at the end of Foundry Lane. There are still concerns about the pollution levels.”
Last year the plan sparked outrage from residents living in Freemantle and Shirley, who feared the impact of fumes and noise on their health and the effect it would have on property prices.
No Southampton Biomass campaigner Eloisa Gil-Arranz said the fundamental concerns remain.
She said: “They have put it in a much better outfit and cosmetically lifted it, but effectively the proposal is not changed. It’s still a huge power station.
“They have effectively moved it two football pitches away from people’s homes. The thing I find really disappointing is the way they are promoting it. They are manipulating us, asking which of the three designs we like best. But they have lost touch with the fact that we don’t want a power station.”
Helius Energy planning director Paul Brighton said he hoped to thoroughly explain the new plans over the next 12 weeks. He said: “While the company acknowledges the concerns expressed by some local residents, the environmental studies that have been undertaken by independent consultants indicate the scheme would have a negligible impact on local air quality, noise and traffic.
“Our intention is that this will be a landmark feature for Southampton and we hope the local community will contribute to the decision about which design will be taken forward.”
Helius said the new-look plant would have less impact and would win the city 450 construction jobs and 40 others at the plant.
Mr Brighton added: “It is important to remember the need to address the growing issue of climate change and renewable energy projects like this will make a significant contribution.”