News

£20 mil Energy Plant to be built in Lochaber

13 September 2009 Fort William

It was recently announced that planners are working to locate a £20 million wood-fired energy plant in Lochaber, designed to cover the electrical needs of the region.

Northern Energy Developments Ltd, based in Dumfries, has received planning consent for two Argyll plants, and has filed the necessary papers with the Highland Council to site the new plant near Invergarry at the northern end of Lochaber.

Approval has not yet been given by the Council, but the company is hopeful to receive the okay in moving forward. If approved, the former Forestry Commission depot will be used since it is zoned as industrial use and not currently required by the Commission.

Northern Energy Developments say the new plant would likely create six jobs directly and around 15 job for those supporting the plant indirectly, thus helping the Invergarry and Fort William areas.

The company has Cowal and Lochgilphead sites in Argyll and a plant in England-shire.

Unfortunately, not all of Northern Energy Developments proposals have been approved. A recent example of a failed proposal was for a £15 million development at Benderloch near Oban which was stopped last year due to resident objections.

The proposed plant in Lochaber, as well as generating green energy, will make use of locally grown small round-wood, thus helping to stimulate the local economy. These types of energy producing plants are based around using locally sourced low-grade forest material, such as woodchip, which is burned in a high-energy combustion chamber which then drives a turbine, generating electricity for the national grid.

“Europe is a major proving ground for biomass energy with approximately 60 per cent of renewable energy used coming from biomass,” said Fergus Tickell, the company’s managing director.

Mr Tickell said: “Each one is a £15 million project, which involves grid connection, using about 60,000 tonnes of timber a year. It’s very much about creating a local market for local material and taking timber lorries off the roads.”

Though the editors of Lochaber Local would much prefer to see non-CO2 producing energy sources used, such as windmills and hydro, any reduced dependence on foreign oil and energy sourced locally cannot be all bad!

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