A MAJOR public consultation is set to be launched into plans for a giant £300m wood-fired power plant at Southampton docks that could light up the city.

UK-based Helius Energy wants to build the 100 megawatt (MW) biomass plant on a 20-acre plot in the Western Docks, adjacent to Millbrook Railfreight Terminal and Millbrook railway station.

It will bring up to 250 construction jobs and boost the bulks business at the port by up to a quarter as up to 800,000 tonnes of wood chip, crops, solid recovered fuel and processed cereal and oilseed residue is shipped in.

Community associations, local residents, port employees, councillors, MPs and MEPs will be approached in a two-month informal consultation with 28 days for written responses.

A further consultation next year will include two public exhibitions for the local community to meet with Helius Energy’s project team and discuss issues such as emissions, traffic, noise and vibration and its impact on the ecology.

Leaflets will be circulated to business and residential properties in Freemantle, Millbrook, Redbridge and Marchwood.

Southampton City Council will discuss the consultation proposals next week.

Docks owners ABP agreed an option for the land after holding talks with a number of big energy players including German Evonik Industries.

Electricity from the plant, enough to power 200,000 homes, will be sold to the national grid.

Council bosses hope to be able to siphon off heat from the plant into a pioneering district heating system in the city which supplies more than 2,000 homes and more than 100 commercial buildings.

Construction of the project will take approximately 36 months. It is anticipated the plant will become operational in 2015. Helius, which has yet to build a power plant, won consent for a similar-sized plant at the Port of Bristol in Avonmouth in March.

It hopes to start work next year after the High Court in Cardiff rejected a bid by opponents for a judicial review.

Isle of Wight-based Real Ventures Ltd recently announced that it intends to submit a planning application to build a privately-funded 49 MW wood-fuelled power plant on an old council landfill site in Newport.