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Power plant planned for Splott would burn virgin timber from Latvia

 

A power plant planned for Splott, Cardiff, would burn 75,000 tonnes of virgin timber from Latvia if plans go ahead.

The plans for the power plant have been slammed by environmental campaigners who claimed burning wood emits more carbon than coal.

The Parc Calon Gwyrdd biomass plant at Rover Way was granted planning permission from Cardiff council in June 2018. But as construction work has not yet begun, the plant operator has applied to renew permission.

The council is consulting the public on their views on the planned plant until Friday, October 16.

According to the plans, the 12,000 square metre power plant would generate 9.5 megawatts of energy. The plant would generate both electricity and heat, for use in a future heat network across the city.

The plans stated that virgin timber, “possibly from Latvia”, would be shipped to either Liverpool or Felixstowe before being carried on trains or lorries to the power plant in Splott.

If approved, the plant would burn around 75,000 tonnes of wood each year, generating 7,500 tonnes of ash.

Friends of the Earth Cardiff is campaigning against the plans, and petitioning the council to refuse to renew planning permission.

The campaigners claimed that burning wood emits more carbon dioxide than coal, and also produces unhealthy levels of air pollution.

Gareth Ludkin, of Friends of the Earth, said: “Burning biomass is not a ‘clean’ or ‘green’ energy resource and emits just as much carbon dioxide as fossil fuels.

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“Generating a unit of energy from wood emits between three per cent and 50 per cent more carbon dioxide upfront than generating it from coal.

“Whether burning virgin wood pellets or waste wood — often imported from abroad to meet demand — planting trees in their place does not effectively balance carbon dioxide emissions while there are already clean and renewable energy sources available.

“It takes decades for a tree to grow and absorb the quantity of carbon dioxide emitted through the burning of the original tree.”

While no information about the company behind Parc Calon Gwyrdd is readily available, architects who designed the plans gave details in the design and access statement.

Architects from Downs Merrifield said: “The power station will be a cornerstone for the production of green energy and be the heart of a proposed ‘green quarter’ for Cardiff — supplying both electric and thermal energy for future developments.

“Biomass power plants are considered a low to zero carbon method of power generation on the basis that the fuel comes from sustainable sources or utilises recycling wood products.”

Earlier in September, Extinction Rebellion protesters blocked the Viridor incinerator at Trident Park, Splott, protesting against similar plans to build a commercial waste incinerator in Wentloog.

The Môr Hafren power plant, Newlands Road, is currently applying for planning permission from the Welsh Government. If built, the plant would burn 200,000 tonnes of waste each year and generate 15 megawatts of electricity.

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