Biomass Plans Withdrawn for Isle of Wight

Biomass Plans Withdrawn for Isle of Wight

- by Ross Findon, July 9, 2013. Source: Isle of Wight County Press

The surprise decision by Real Ventures was announced this morning (Tuesday) just hours before the Isle of Wight Council was due to consider an application by the company to extend its preferred bidder status for a former landfill site at Stag Lane.

Yesterday (Monday) a petition was handed to the council by campaigners opposed to the development, signed by more than 1,000 people calling for a full public consultation on Real Venture's plans.

In March 2010 Real Ventures revealed the proposal to create a £130m biomass plant capable of generating two thirds of the Isle of Wight's electricity, by burning wood pellets. If successful, they said the plant would create 35 jobs and cut carbon emissions.

But opponents claimed the scheme was not eco-friendly as it would result in tonnes of wood having to be shipped to the Island from around Europe to fuel the plant, which would be a blot on the landscape and produce harmful fumes.

Years of work have been carried out on assessing the site and determining what work might need to be done to deal with potential hazards from its past as a landfill site, including dealing with asbestos.

Real Ventures was established in 2008 by Islanders Mike Hammond, Ray Tucker and John Gallimore. The three previously worked for blue chip industrial companies and were former campaigners for the anti-onshore wind energy group ThWART.

Statements from the company as recent as yesterday (Monday) suggested it was pressing ahead with the plans. In a statement issued today however, Real Ventures, said its decision to pull out of the Isle of Wight plan was due, in part, to two recent developments that had occurred since the company applied to the council for preferred bidder status on June 25. It said it had reconsidered the plans in light of a review of the remediation work needed at the site following the latest report it had received about Stag Lane and changes to government finance.

The company said it had other projects underway that were more favourable in business terms. It said it would do its best to co-operate with the Isle of Wight Council and any new developer for the site.

Real Ventures CEO Ray Tucker said: "The decision to withdraw from Stag Lane has been made after very careful consideration and solely on the basis of Real Venture’s project portfolio."

He told the County Press that a lot of money, time and effort had been spent on the Isle of Wight site, but that it had become apparent the business had easier options elsewhere in the country. "I don't think the Stag Lane site is unsuitable for biomass and that it can't be done. It's just it's a tricky site.

"Given the choice between a tricky site and an easier site, what would you do, and there are lots of easier sites available," he said.

Tanja Rebel, of opposition group Wight Biomess, said: "Wight Biomess is over the moon with the decision of Real Ventures to withdraw its application for a biomass plant along the river Medina. "We hope that the Isle of Wight Council now safeguards the river for the long-term future as the sensitive and beautiful eco-habitat that it is."