Biomass power station could be built at Portsmouth Naval Base

PLAN Portsmouth Naval Base pictured in 2011
PLAN Portsmouth Naval Base pictured in 2011

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PORTSMOUTH’S council leader has backed plans for a biomass power station at Portsmouth Naval Base.

As previously reported, the navy is working with the council on the idea of making a heat and power plant to provide for the needs of the two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

Today council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson confirmed that Helius Energy - which sparked controversy with an application two years ago to build a £300m plant at Southampton Docks - was in talks with the MoD to create a similar facility in Portsmouth.

The plans for Southampton prompted protests from people living in communities nearby who felt the huge development would generate problems with traffic, noise and pollution.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It’s more sustainable and makes more sense for them to have control of it, it may well be cheaper and it will create more jobs.

‘The thing I support is whether there is enough power in Portsmouth.

‘When modern warships turn up in Portsmouth they tap into the electricity mains and they take a huge amount of power.’

The Ministry of Defence confirmed no decision has been taken and other power alternatives are also being looked at.

An MOD spokesman said: ‘MOD is working with Portsmouth City Council to scope the full range of options for meeting our future power requirements. No decisions have yet been taken.’

It is understood that despite its interest in Portsmouth, Helius Energy is still pursuing its plans for a plant in Southampton, where residents have protested against the impact it would have on the area.

Letters have been sent to residents in Millbrook, Southampton, by Southampton city councillor David Furnell claiming that Portsmouth City Council is ‘very keen’ to take the power plant ‘off our hands.’

Portsmouth City Council Conservative group deputy leader Donna Jones criticised the letters and said they were giving people in both cities the wrong impression.

‘I’m firstly concerned that I found about proposals for a biomass power station in Portsmouth from Councillor Jeremy Moulton, a colleague 20 miles down the road, and on the back of a letter from a Labour councillor in Southampton,’ she said.

‘But the naval base commander is being very sensible in thinking ahead for a huge power supply in Portsmouth, should both The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and the Type 26 frigates come here.

‘We do need to have an independent power supply for the navy because we are a city which is committed to working with the navy.

‘However, my real gripe here is why the Labour party in Southampton decided to send out these letters.

‘For Southampton residents, it’s created a false sense of hope in that the power station won’t be built there and instead go to Portsmouth. It could create scaremongering in Portsmouth and this is something which hasn’t been done through consultation.’

Biomass power is created by using natural products. The Helius Energy proposal for Southampton says that there it would use ‘sustainably-sourced wood fuel in the form of virgin wood fibre, recycled wood and energy crops together with other biomass material including by-products from processing cereals and oilseeds, all supplied in the form of loose material, chips, pellets or briquettes, that qualify as renewable fuels under the provisions of the Renewables Obligation 2009.’