£20m green energy plant move set to gather steam

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SHEFFIELD is in line for another green energy plant that turns waste wood into power and heat.

Plans for a £20m development on the Holbrook industrial estate at Halfway have been submitted to the council by a new Sheffield-based business, Mediena Ltd, with a view to construction starting before the end of the year.

It follows council permission for power giant E.ON’s scheme for a £120m biomass plant on the site of the old Blackburn Meadows power station next to the M1.

The Holbrook project, off Rother Valley Way, between Station Road and New Street, is designed to use recovered timber, such as from demolition sites, to produce electricity as well as heat that would be sold to the local authority district heating scheme. There is also potential to supply heat to other local consumers.

The Community Renewable Energy Centre is being developed by Mediena Ltd and its trading arm UYE Ltd.

Mediena director Stephen Brooks, a leading figure in the development of Sheffield Heat and Power which pioneered the city centre district heating scheme, said: “Sheffield has had a great reputation for delivering innovative renewable and green energy projects for the last 25 years.

“We see this project as being a way of extending that great reputation for the next 25 years.

“We have been quietly working on this project for the last two-and-a-half years and a considerable amount of research has gone into refining our plans for this and other similar developments across the country.”

Birmingham-based BTG Corporate Finance said the funds had been secured through a consortium of private individuals. Director Steve McMullan said: “A planning application has now been submitted to the council. If all goes well then building work would start in the last quarter of this year with a completion date before the end of 2013.

“Sheffield has always been very supportive of green energy and would like to become one of the first self-sufficient cities in the UK. This project is aligned with that strategy.

The management team are also looking at other CHP projects in Sheffield and the surrounding areas, of a similar size and investment level.”

The council’s assessment of the application will focus on any issues concerning air quality.

After the Blackburn Meadows go-ahead, Manchester-based Breathe Clean Air Group warned that emissions from the burning of waste wood “contain a range of toxic chemicals and very fine particulate matter that can cause ill health”.

But E.ON said the burning of biomass fuel was “a tried and tested” method of producing electricity and heat, and is subject to strict safety and environmental regulations. The wood would otherwise go to landfill and produce methane.

City Green councillor Jillian Creasy said: “We welcome biomass as a source of energy as long as the fuel is genuine waste or from renewable sources. It is not environmentally sound to import hardwood or convert agricultural land from food-growing to biomass crops.

“There are also concerns about air quality from burning wood. But if these issues are overcome, we would welcome this development.”