Hargreaves Services Plc has recently set up a subsidiary company called Rocpower Ltd to generate electricity from vegetable oil. Hargreaves itself is a supplier of services and fossil fuels, including coal, to conventional power station operators.
Rocpower is planning SIX biofuel power stations in Yorkshire, with a total generating capacity of 60MW. This is three times the size of the power station Blue NG wants to build in Southall, so Rocpower’s total fuel consumption across the six planned sites is likely to be at least 150,000 tonnes per year. Rocpower say they will use a range of different types of 'virgin vegetable oil' and don't exclude either palm oil or soybean oil.
Peat expert Professor Siegert of Munich University has said about palm oil power stations in Germany: "We were able to prove that the making of these plantations and the burning of the rainforests and peat areas emits many thousands of times as much CO2 as we then are able to prevent by using palm oil. And that is a disastrous balance for the climate." ( http://tinyurl.com/y9xel3g ). Ever more communities in countries like Colombia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Ecuador are losing their land to palm oil companies, with plantation expansion to a large extent driven by Europe's biofuel policies.
Rocpower has submitted planning applications for three of the six power stations:
* Wakefield – 11MW. Planning application No. 09/01145/FUL, to be built in Featherstone.
* Barnsley – 7MW. Planning application No. 2009/0814, to be built in Baraugh Green.
* Sheffield – 8MW. Planning application No. 09/02979/FUL, to be built in Ecclesfield.
Wakefield and Barnsley are due to be determined by 16th October so it is probably too late to submit further objections. However if you live in those towns you might want to check out the situation and raise concerns with your local councillors about the environmental impacts of biofuel electricity.
Sheffield's planning application is open for comments until 22 October. The Council must make its decision by 6 November.
IF YOU LIVE IN THE UK please send in an objection to Sheffield City Council.
Exhaust emissions from the power station will mean local residents have to suffer increased levels of nitrogen dioxide and small particulates that are linked to respiratory and cardiac disease.
Parts of Sheffield already have high levels of air pollution and exceed legal limits.
If possible, please personalise the letter below before emailing it to Sheffield City Council Planning Department. It will be sent to email@example.com. Please let your friends and family know. Many thanks.
Objection to Planning Application Ref 09/02979/FUL: Rocpower Ltd’s Biofuel Power Generation Plant
Re: Objection to Rocpower Ltd’s application for a Biofuel Power Generation Plant at Ecclesfield, Ref 09/02979/FUL
I wish to object to Rocpower Ltd’s planning application to build an 8 MW biofuel power station at Loicher Lane, Ecclesfield, which would burn 10,000 tonnes of vegetable oil every year. I am deeply concerned about the impact of biofuels such as palm oil on the climate, on rainforests and other ecosystems and on communities in the global South. In Italy and Germany, a large number of biofuel power stations are already operating and virtually all of them run on palm oil which is by far the cheapest vegetable oil.
If the power station were run on palm oil only, it would require about 4,000 hectares of plantations to produce its fuel every year – and even more if other types of fuel were used. According to the UN, palm oil is the main cause of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. It is responsible for billions of tonnes of carbon emissions, as forests are destroyed and peatlands converted to plantations. In countries like Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Colombia, growing numbers of indigenous peoples, small farmers and other rural communities are being forced off their land, often through violence to make way for new oil palm plantations.
I am also concerned about the impacts of the proposed biofuel power station on air quality and thus on the health of the local population, particularly in Ecclesfield but potentially also in surrounding districts. The site for the power station in Loicher Lane is within the City’s urban area designated in 2006 as an Air Quality Management Area. The Council has a responsibility to prepare and implement remedial action plans to control and reduce air pollution in the AQMA. The Rocpower power station will worsen PM10 levels, as well as those of nitrogen dioxide and PM 2.5, and will therefore make it more difficult for the Council to meet its responsibility to improve air quality.
Sheffield City Council must consider the climate and wider sustainability impacts of planning decisions and I believe that this means that the development should be rejected. I also request that the plans are considered by the relevant planning committee and not as a delegated decision.
If this power station is built:
# Local air quality will get worse –Vegetable oil burning emits nitrogen oxides and small particulates linked to respiratory illnesses and heart problems.
# It will contribute to climate change. Biofuel production releases more greenhouse gases through land conversion and chemical fertiliser use than the fossil fuels they replace.
# It will make world food prices higher as vegetable oil will be used for electricity instead of food.
# People in other areas of the world, like South-east Asia and South America could be displaced from their homes to allow the necessary vegetable oil plants to be grown.
# It will NOT provide local residents with cheaper electricity.
So far there are no biofuel power stations in the UK although planning permission has been granted to build one in East London. In Germany, people living near their biofuel power stations suffer noise and smell, and at least one power station there has been refused planning permission.