A FRESH bid is under way to block plans for a controversial biomass plant in Southampton – by refusing to use the heat it would create.

Environmental campaigners want civic chiefs to make a pledge that the city council will refuse to become a business partner with developers Helius.

The energy giant submitted plans for a £300m wood-fuelled plant for land in Millbrook in 2011 – sparking anger and demonstrations among residents living nearby who fear it will be a fire risk and cause pollution.

The company can only gain Government subsidies for the plans if it identifies a large customer base for its heat output – which in most cases is usually local authorities.

Now deputy leader of the Tory group on Southampton City Council Jeremy Moulton will table a motion at Wednesday’s full council meeting suggesting that the authority should refuse to purchase heat from the plant if it gets the go-ahead.

Cllr Moulton – who is backed by the No Southampton Biomass (NSB) group – also wants all four party leaders to send a signed letter to the firm reaffirming this.

He said: “If Helius does get the go-ahead it could leave the door open for the council eventually being a customer.

“We want to make it crystal clear from the outset that this will never happen.

“A letter from all four group leaders would be a very powerful statement and hopefully all parties will support this.”

NSB member Steve Galton said: “By making it clear the council won’t purchase Helius’s heat, it is a great opportunity to put its position very clearly on the record.

“This would be a very symbolic show of solidarity and commitment by all against the power station.”

Senior members of the Labour-run council are meeting tonight to discuss the motion ahead of the debate on Wednesday. The council will also vote on the Hampshire Waste and Mineral Strategy which restricts developers creating large industrial sites in residential areas close to the docks.

Council leader Simon Letts said: “We are actively looking at [Cllr Moulton’s] proposal and broadly supportive but we need to discuss it.”

The 100-megawatt plant would power up to 200,000 homes and Helius claims it would save 470,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being sent into the air compared to an average fossil fuel plant.

The firm was unavailable for further comment last night.