Friday, 19 March 2010

Port Clarence Biomass plant approved

Friends of the Earth attended the planning committee that unanimously approved the power station that will use 400,000 tonnes of Palm Kernel Shells a year from Malaysia. It was a close call to oppose it, but we felt that it should use another fuel source. Power stations that use palm oil are at the pre-planning stage in the Teesside area, and they should be rejected!

We wish this project well and hope that it really does use Combined Heat and Power and puts Teesside on the map with a power station as iconic as Battersea.

Northern Echo article

Friday, 12 March 2010

BEI Teesside Biomass power station for Port Clarence?

The striking design offers the possibilities of real jobs on Teesside but should it be re-thought?  Teesside is an ideal location for biomass power stations, with good port facilities, experienced workforce, good grid connections and an industrial heritage - indeed we were the first in the country with the Sembcorp Biomass Power Station at Wilton International and there are two more planned at Teesport and  Billingham.  However FoE has some reservations about the BEI-Teesside scheme that plans to import Palm oil kernel biomass from Malaysia 9,000 miles away rather than using waste wood or sustainable wood from the UK or Scandinavia.

Last month a proposed Biofuel power station in Bristol was refused permission due to concerns over their use of palm oil.  Some Palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia impact on wildlife (especially Orangutans), local people, burning /cutting down rain forest, and the environment in general.  

At present, the use of palm oil products for fuel makes a mockery of the high govt subsidy that developers would get for producing power in this way.

FoE are looking into the details closely and may object to the scheme when it comes to the planning committee meeting on Wed 17th March at Stockton library.  If there was a different source of biomass used Foe would not have an objection.

Application at Stockton council;

Evening Gazette article

Optimistic industrial report on Palm Oil Kernel use
BEI's environmental report

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Cycle to work and cycling safety

Cycling more is a great thing to do for the environment, fitness and to save money, and most of us have a bike rusting away in the garage or shed un-used.
Of course there are lots of cycle ways and routes that are away from major traffic, a journey by push bike would probably be a more direct, different route to the one you would make by car. but I felt to deal with busy roads, roundabouts and big lorries I could do with some help, so I contacted Redcar council (all the councils have schemes) and got real help to cut down the risk of cycling.
The most common accident is where someone opens a car door and knocks the cyclist over! Simply cycle well wide of any parked cars. Road positioning is also key to stopping cars forcing you into the side of the road or at junctions.
If you are thinking of cycling to work you can get 50% off the cost of the bicycle and equipment, with the rest being spread out over an interest free loan taken from salary. Cannot get better than that.
I enjoyed my course and learnt a lot as well, so contact your local council for lessons, just google it! Cycle to work scheme

Witton Castle to get renewables makeover?

Witton castle, in county durham, is a country estate that has a lot of potential for renewables. The owner is keen to promote nature with its David Bellamy award caravan park, nature walks and wildlife. Renewable energy fits in with this ethos.
The estate has the potential for biomass heating, several possible hydro sites from existing dammed lakes and other renewables.
We will let you know of any developments as they come up.

Renewable energy sites found by FoE

Tocketts Mill - caravan park

SO if you were looking to site a small scale hydro scheme or other renewables where would be a good place to look? Well the advice we were given was look for place names that have mill or wier in the title. So Tocketts mill came to mind! Dating back in places to the Domesday book the historic mill is now used at weekends by a historic society and the converted stables resturant is very popular with upto a 100 people at the weekends.
FoE came at just the right time to look at renewables because the park was upgrading its elelctricity supply and boilers and we could get them a grant that allowed a free 3-5 day survey. The site is also off the mains gas supply, they use LPG so their energy bill would be a lot higher. We will keep you posted on developements!