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October 17, 2012

W4B Portland, the company behind plans for a biofuel power station at Portland Port, are running out of time to begin construction. In January 2010 they were given permission to build a power station on the basis that it would burn palm oil shipped from Indonesia. This permission runs out in just three months time, and now they are trying to change the timetable set by the council and begin construction without giving details of a chemical, biological and air quality monitoring strategy.

If you live in Weymouth or Portland then please write to your local councillor. If you are unsure of who that is you can find details and a contact form here or their email address here. If you don’t live locally you can write to the Mayor, Margaret Leicester, using this form or this email.

Below is a sample letter, please try to personalise it if you can.

 Subject: Please ensure air quality monitoring is in place before biofuel power station construction is allowed to commence

Dear Councillor,

As you know we have been living with the threat of a polluting palm oil power station hanging over us for almost 3 years. Planning permission that was granted in January 2010 is due to run out in 3 months.

Public pressure against this unsustainable and dirty development has seen hundreds of people marching through the streets of Weymouth and Portland, and even blockading the gates of Portland Port. The developers have consistently delayed starting work, selling the company that obtained the original planning consent (W4B Renewable Energy Ltd) in a deal that included the contract to sell energy to the national grid, and have set up a new company, W4B Portland Ltd. This company, under the Directorship of Chris Slack, is now making moves to begin construction before their planning consent expires.

I am very concerned that they are now trying to change the timetable and circumvent some of the conditions imposed when consent was granted. Two new applications to the planning authority (12/00661/CMPCON and 12/00662/CMPCON) seek to delay submitting detailed plans to the authority before works begin on the site. Most of the conditions relate to the materials used in construction (stone, roofing materials, etc.) details of which the applicants request be delayed until the construction of the building commences, and landscaping plans which they propose delaying until that stage of the development. While it would be preferable for those plans to be submitted now, there is another much more troubling matter.

Application reference 12/00662/CMPCON relates to condition 5 of the Grant of Planning Permission for the biofuel power station (09/00646/FULES) and reads:

5.  Unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority, before the commencement of the development hereby approved a detailed 10 year chemical and biological air quality monitoring strategy for the proposed energy plant, shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  Thereafter monitoring shall be carried out in accordance with the agreed details and timetable and if the Local Planning Authority considers that any mitigating measures are necessary, these shall be carried out in accordance with the strategy.

Reason:  In order to ensure that there is no long term detriment to the environment in the locality, to the detriment of air and water quality and nature conservation interests in the locality.  In accordance with PPS9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation, PPS23: Planning and Pollution Control and Policies D3, N13 and N15 of the adopted Weymouth and Portland Local Plan 2005.

The applicants (W4B Portland) propose delaying submitting the 10 year chemical and biological air quality strategy until the plant is ready to operate. This is completely unacceptable. Air quality and pollution were a fundamental concern expressed by residents throughout the planning process, and surely this condition was imposed to address the legitimate concern about the health impacts of this plant on Portland and Weymouth residents?

Please do all you can to ensure that this condition is satisfied now, before any work is allowed to commence at the site. This is the very least the developers can do if we are to be subjected to this unwanted development that could blight the lives of so many residents.

I look forward to hearing back from you.


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