Britain to build world's biggest biomass plant

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The Government has given the go-ahead for the biggest biomass plant in the world to be built on the South coast of Wales.

The 350-megawatt wood chip-fuelled electricity generating plant will cost £400 million to set-up and will be sited in the industrial town of Port Talbot.

Environmental groups oppose the project because of its location with Greenpeace expressing concern that wood would be transported over the Atlantic Ocean. The exact source of the wood to be used has not been made clear.

There has also been a local campaign against the proposal, with 7,000 people signing a petition.

However, announcing the approval for the project, Business Secretary John Hutton said the plant would produce enough energy to power half the homes in Wales.

“It joins eight major renewables projects already given the green light in the past 12 months alone and is another important step towards the low carbon economy envisaged by the Prime Minister,” said Mr Hutton.

The plant is expected to contribute about 70 percent of the Welsh Assembly's 2010 renewable energy target, and have a 25-year lifetime. It will create around 150 new jobs.

Environmental groups also said they were disappointed the plant would only be producing electricity and not heating as other similar plants do.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist November 2007