Alison Eastlow 0

No Southampton Biomass

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 Did you know that plans are underway to build a giant power station in the heart of Southampton?

This will affect not only those who live in the immediate vicinity but the whole City.


The initial 'consultation' phase of the pre-application stage of this planning proposal has now ended.

The sheer size and scale of this proposal means that the decision as to whether it goes ahead lies not with the City Council, but with a government body called the Planning Inspectorate.

When Helius submit their application and it is accepted for consideration, objections can then be made to a body which – in theory at least – is ‘independent’. 

In short, making your views known to them will consist of-

1. Making a short written objection called a “relevant representation” to the Planning Inspectorate. This will then entitle you to be an “interested party” so you can then-

2. Make a more detailed objection, should you wish to.

3. Attend any relevant ‘planning’ meetings which would be held locally.

Details of the procedure can be found here -

Further info including details of upcoming deadlines, links, pre-prepared ‘template’ letters, contact details, etc. will be posted here in due course.

With millions in profit at stake Helius aren’t going to ‘go away’ easily. We should therefore endeavour to help them all we can.

Please help fight this planned development before it’s too late because there will be no chance of missing it when its here!

Below is a list of the main reasons to object to the proposal as it stands. 

Wrong Location.

The proposed site is located extremely close to the highly populated – and popular – areas of Freemantle and Millbrook, which in turn are less than a mile from the City Centre.

The distance from peoples’ homes is a mere 250 metres and, as you would expect in an established residential area, there are both schools and nurseries nearby.

The proposed site is also next to the primary road and rail routes into the City from the West, so would be visible not only to City residents but also to visitors and tourists. Situated on port land, it would also be close to berths used by cruise liners and their passengers. Not a particularly welcoming sight to the ‘Maritime City’.

Wrong size.

The enormous size and scale of the proposed plant is totally out of keeping with the surrounding area. It would completely dominate the landscape and be visible throughout the City and for miles beyond.


The major concern is that of risks to health. The emissions from burning wood, notably ‘fly’ ash (small particulate matter,PM 2.5, PM10) and nitrogen dioxide are known to cause health problems. Even small increases in irritant polluting gases can cause respiratory problems in otherwise healthy people, so there is naturally greater concern for the elderly, the infirm and the very young.

In addition to imported ‘virgin’ wood pellets the developer has the option to burn pre-used wood from industrial sources. The burning of chemically treated wood can release dioxins and heavy metals which are toxic in even small amounts and are widely linked to cancer.

Although most of this wood will be brought in by ship, the developer has the option to bring in about 200,000 tonnes per annum by road. According to the Council’s analysis this will mean 54 HGV trips per day, or 6 per hour, to bring the wood in. This does not include the HGV trips, in and out, to remove the ash, nor does it include staff trips in and out by car and minibus.

The site is directly opposite an existing Air Quality Management Area which was extended in 2010 due to the site already failing to meet air quality objectives for nitrogen dioxide due to the current levels of road traffic.

Toxic ash from the plant will be transported away by tarpaulined HGV’s, rather than in sealed containers, so it is likely that there would be some ‘leakage’ of the lighter particles into the environment.

Wood-dust is a significant health issue for employers with staff involved in the handling, storage and transportation of wood pellets. It would be naive to assume that this dust will remain within the confines of the port.

There is a very real risk of serious fire with the storage and transportation of wood pellets, as graphically illustrated by the recent ‘Tilbury’ fire.

Heat is produced by bacteria and fungi in the wood through oxidation. As the temperature increases, an “exothermic situation”, i.e. explosion, can occur. 

This has also happened in Denmark and northern Sweden, where silos containing pellets burned for months.

And for the lucky ship-owners bringing the pellets in, they will be fully aware that they are transporting what is classified as ‘hazardous’ cargo.

This is because of the high levels of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane and oxygen that can build up very quickly in the enclosed holds of ocean going vessels – risking both fire and explosion. The holds need to be fully monitored and frequently vented. (Yet, even with that, carbon monoxide emissions released by wood pellets actually killed a person in the cargo hold of a ship in 2002.)


Sadly not an issue that will be concerning the Planning Inspectorate.

Helius were able to get consent for their similar Avonmouth project without providing any evidence at all of supply-chains. They are not, after all, an electricity producer. All they had to say was “we can get the wood matey” and that’s apparently all you need to satisfy the Secretary of State.

Even using the Government’s own methodology, based on a 15 year rotation cycle, it would take a plantation the combined size of both Kuwait and Lebanon to provide enough wood to make a proposed power-station of this size ‘sustainable’ , and that would only become effective after the plantation has been established. If the power-station is started now and finished in 3 years time, then the first 12 years of wood for fuel (say about 8,000,000 tonnes) would all have to come from existing forests. And all that for just this one, Southampton, plant…

In a word. Madness. 

Climate change.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, these power-stations will be pumping massive amounts of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere long before these ‘carbon-sinks’ are established, making the problem of climate-change considerably worse, not better. (See the blog page for some figures...)

Unfortunately it appears that there isn’t anyone bright enough in Westminster to do the calculations. Either that or they’re using the same calculator that they use to manage the economy - you know, the one with half the buttons missing.

And we won’t even go into the cost to the planet’s biodiversity and other countries’ land usage – short-term, short-sighted politicians just aren’t interested.

What’s needed, for both the short and long term, is to significantly raise the bar concerning the type of people that we give the responsibility for making these decisions to…

Global problems need global solutions.

Your signature will call upon the ‘developer’, Helius Energy Plc (Southampton Biomass Power) to withdraw this absurd proposal. 

**Please note. This petition has no official status and your comments and any objections should be put  in writing.

Thank you for your time and help.

There is more information on the Blog page here, the Nosouthamptonbiomass Facebook page and the Biofuelwatch web-site.

Please add your signature to the petition and help shape the face of Southampton for the future.


The "Western Docks Consultation Forum". The residents Group has agreed a constitution and is about to be officially formed, and YOU are invited. More details on the Blog page...


The leading Environmental Groups' assessment:
'Dirtier Than Coal'

Biofuelwatch's comprehensive analysis of the UK Government's policy of industrial-scale wood-burning for electricity generation. A summary and link:

Views from abroad -

From the Government's own independent advisers on climate change. Told to "shut up" after producing this:
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