A new power station that will use wood chip to produce enough electricity to power half a million homes in Wales has been given the go ahead by the UK Environment Agency.
The Prenergy plant, in Port Talbot, South Wales, will produce electricity with 50 to 80 per cent fewer carbon dioxide emissions than gas or coal fired power stations. It will be Britain’s largest biomass power plant.
To ensure this carbon dioxide reduction and to protect the environment, the Environment Agency has insisted that all wood used at the plant is from sustainable sources. It is the first time the Environment Agency has included this clause as part of an environmental permit.
The decision to grant a permit to Prenergy Power Ltd follows a lengthy evaluation process and discussions with local people. The Environment Agency sought the advice of the Local Health Board and has set strict emissions limits to protect human health which is important considering the proximity of the Air Quality Management Area.
The environmental permit will legally bind Prenergy to ensure that:
- The operation of the plant has no measurable impact on local air quality
- The operation of the plant has no measurable impact on the local environment. All wood burnt at the plant must be certified from a sustainable source
- The plant must be constructed and operated to meet the highest environmental standards
Steve Brown, Environment Agency Wales Area Manager, said: “We have spent a great deal of time carefully evaluating this application and taking on board the views of local people. As a result we have produced a permit designed to ensure the continued protection of people and the local environment.
As a regulator, Environment Agency Wales ensures that power stations are designed, constructed and operated to meet the highest standards. We have carried out a thorough and detailed assessment of all aspects of the permit application from Prenergy. We have considered the impacts on air quality and peoples health as well as the local environment whilst assessing this application. We are confident that this power station meets the requirements of the current regulations governing its operation and that a permit can be issued.”
Tony Grayling, the Environment Agency’s Head of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, said: “Biomass plants such as Prenergy’s Port Talbot power station will play an important role in helping combat climate change if the wood they burn is sourced sustainably. As part of its environmental permit, Prenergy must prove to the Environment Agency that its wood is sustainable. If the sustainability standard is met, this new station will be a big step towards meeting the Governments’ climate change and renewable energy targets. In the future we would like to see all biomass developers meet the high standards that have been set by Prenergy.”
Port Talbot Renewable Energy Plant
Tel.: 0044-(0)29-2046 6027
Source: Environment Agency, press release, 2009-09-31.