A CONTROVERSIAL renewable power station could be built at Portsmouth Naval Base to provide support for the Royal Navy’s new fleet.
As previously reported in The News, the Royal 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.
Now, Helius Energy – which sparked controversy with an application two years ago to build a £300m biomass plant at Southampton Docks – has been in talks with the MoD to create a similar facility in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said he supported the move and stressed the need for the navy to have its own power supply.
‘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,’ he said.
‘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.
‘If there is no independent electricity supply, and the aircraft carriers arrive, then Portsmouth will get dark.’
The plans for Southampton prompted protests from people living nearby who felt the huge development would generate problems with traffic, noise and pollution.
Southampton city councillor David Furnell has sent letters to residents in Millbrook claiming Portsmouth City Council is ‘very keen’ to take the power plant off our hands’.
Portsmouth’s conservative group leader Donna Jones said the letters were giving people living in both cities the wrong impression.
‘It could create scaremongering in Portsmouth and this is something which hasn’t gone through consultation,’ she said. ‘I’d need to look at the plans carefully to see whether there are any environmental implications.
‘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 are a city which is committed to working with the navy.’
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.’
There was no immediate comment from Helius Energy.
It is understood that despite its interest in Portsmouth, Helius Energy is still pursuing its plans for a plant in Southampton.
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.