September 2012 Press Release
Our preference for using the Councils resources
No Southampton Biomass are grateful for the support the Council have offered us throughout our fight against Helius. We now note that Councillors will have the opportunity to vote next Wednesday (12th Sept 2012) on whether to progress with a local referendum for the residents of Millbrook & Freemantle wards. We also note that the costs have risen once again from an optimistic £45,000 to a potential cost of £75,000.
Before any decision is made on this matter we feel some thought should be put in to what we are trying to achieve. NSB want to prevent Helius building their monstrous, non green, power station on our doorsteps and we believe this is the same goal of the Council. Originally the referendum was planned to cost £5000 and although it wouldn't have any planning or legal weight it would be a good sign of exactly how the local community feels - at just £5000 this seemed a very worthy and financially sound step to take. With the new costs we do feel reflection is needed within the scope of the overall campaign against Helius and what we wish to achieve together.
We have followed very carefully other campaigns across the country. What we have learnt is these decisions appear not to be won on strength of local opinion, but on the finer details of planning policy and National Planning Policies. As such we would prefer, and actually love to see, the Council spending its money as wisely as possible on legal/planning advice. This would be on the residents of Southampton's behalf so that the Council can put together as strong a case against Helius as possible. We have an opportunity for this currently with the Hampshire Waste & Mineral Strategy whereby a considered "expert" opinion could ensure the strongest and most robust line is taken now, that could prove a crucial planning consideration if and when Helius do decide to progress their plans. Helius' own responses to this consultation should act as a demonstration of the weight this document could have in future considerations.
As such we feel the Council should make use of it's resources to pro-actively support the residents in the fight against Helius its number 1 priority. £75,000 ear marked for expert planning/legal advice would go a very long way. It would also send a very strong and clear message to Helius that Southampton City Council mean business. As we see it there are 2 options now:
- We would love a referendum and a Council commitment to use its funds to pro-actively support us in the fight against Helius if budgets allow both
- Should funding mean only 1 of these is currently possible we would strongly urge the funds are used on the planning/legal side as this is ultimately how any fight will be won. These funds should not now be used on a referendum that will have no legal weight in any future Helius application if this precludes money from being spent on external expert legal/planning advice.
Our major concerns are a decision being made next Wednesday that commits funds, if this then means no funds are available for the Council to pro-actively fight Helius. We are also very aware of the tough economical times and are worried that £75,000 on something that ultimately won't affect the planning process may not be the wisest use of public resources and could actually cause negative publicity that would not be helpful to Southampton City Council or the No Southampton Biomass campaign.
July 2012 Biomass Update
The last in the latest rounds of public exhibitions takes place at the Blighmont TA Centre, Millbrook Road West, Southampton SO15 0AJ on Thursday 5th July 2012 from 2.00pm to 8.00pm
This will be your last chance to see and question Helius and their experts before you get the chance to respond to their revised plans that we personally feel are Still Too Big, Still Too Close and Still Not Green.
New template letter coming soon...
NSB are confirming a few points before we produce a new template letter for those residents who agree with our campaign. We will keep our email list, facebook and downloads page updated with progress on this. We also plan to deliver reminders to our community prior to the 3rd August deadline for responding.
Thursday 5th July - Solidarity Meet
NSB have organised a solidarity meet at Lakelands Park to coincide with the last public exhibition. This is a chance for our community to gather as one and send a message to Helius (through the local press that will be in attendance and recording the event).
We are asking all local residents and concerned people of Southampton to meet in Lakelands Park (Adjacent to Millbrook Dual Carriage Way) at 6pm. Families and children are welcome. After our gathering there will be time for any resident to make there way, via a 5/10 minute walk, to the Helius exhibition before it closes.
NSB Group Comments for SCC Planning Panel on 17th April 2012:
Before commenting on the proposed SOCC we would like it to be noted that due to the change in site footprint, length of time since original phases of consultation and the ongoing confusion with partial press releases and lack of knowledge of the full Helius proposal’s, we feel that it isn’t right to continue now as part of the initial consultation period.
We feel for an adequate public consultation to be held now then a clear, concise and well managed consultation period should be requested.
We have new residents within the inner zone and even new Cllr’s who have not had the benefit of the IPC held meetings explaining the process – we even approach a situation where there could be even more new Cllr’s post May who have no previous awareness of the process of history of the application and yet they form a major part of the statutory consultee’s and will be “thrown in at the deep end”.
This situation is further confused with the transfer of the IPC to the Planning Inspectorate.
Helius themselves replied to a question Steven Galton asked with “It is our view that the revision to the site does not materially change the scope of the environmental studies. However, where the change in site or project layout might potentially affect the results of environmental studies undertaken in connection with the former scheme, we are currently updating those studies”
This reply manages to completely contradict itself – if the site change doesn’t affect the studies then there is no need to update them, if they need to be updated then either the studies are purely a paper exercise to Helius or there are material changes that are causing the reports to be amended. Either way, on these points alone, there is a very strong argument of an inadequate consultation by Helius. Helius themselves even refer to “the former scheme” not the current or ongoing scheme – a sign even they know this is a completely new application in every manor except it is still for a 100MW power station!
COMMENTS ON THE NEW SOCC:
Last June the revised SOCC was discussed by the planning panel and a number of points were raised as the direct response to be given to Helius. Again Steven Galton contacted Helius about the content of this new SOCC and was told:
“The draft Further Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) and draft Further Community Consultation Strategy (CCS) relating to scheme design changes were considered and endorsed by Southampton City Council in June 2011, subject to a number of observations which we have incorporated into the documents”
This statement says they have incorporated the Council’s observations into the document, however on reading the new draft SOCC this simply does not seem to be the case!
- · The Inner Zone: This was advised to be increased to include the Shirley and Redbridge wards. Helius have re-worded this with the caveat of 2 kilometres of the Primary Development Area. This 2km radius is wholly inadequate as the attached diagram shows. The red circle is a 2km radius – as you’ll see this is actually much smaller than the original agreed zone – blue area. Originally Helius agreed to include the village of Marchwood so taking this distance as a marker it is approx 5km from the site – the green zone area. This zone adequately covers the Freemantle, Millbrook, Redbridge and Shirley Wards as agreed in June 2011’s planning meeting. The 2 km zone does not and whilst not wishing to assume to know the panels thoughts this is surely not the wish of the panel when they requested ALL residents within the Shirley and Redbridge wards be added to the inner zone definition.
- · Events were requested to be staggered over more than a 4 week period. Helius have chosen to discard this and hold 5 exhibitions within a 4 week period. We feel it would be prudent to have 2 exhibitions at least 3 whole weeks apart in 4 different areas. Our recommendations would be to utilise the Testwood Road Hall, Tauntons College, Millbrook School and Marchwood site as good community centres for residents to attend. As the consultation is once again within the summer holiday period we really feel there must be 2 exhibitions at each venue 3 full weeks apart to allow for attendance. We would not be adverse to exhibitions at all venues in a single week and then again all in a week after 3 clear weeks. We would ask if possible that exhibitions could run 2pm to 10pm to allow for people who work adequate time to attend and ask questions or raise concerns – the worry with just 2pm -8pm is many working people will struggle to attend as many jobs and shift patterns do not fit in well with this time period. Having one exhibition starting at 7am would be another good idea to ensure as many people as possible could access at least one exhibition.
- · The council requested consultation leaflets be drafted in consultation with SCC and NSB. This doesn’t say Helius have to listen to any changes but it seems very peculiar that Helius would wish to deny 2 of their biggest consultation groups the chance to ensure they produce a concise, well understood communication. Previously we believe SCC responded to criticism of direct communication by making Helius resend letters – this one bit of input could save both Helius time and money and is in their interest, especially with the raised concerns of adequacy of consultation – if not including NSB at least consulting with the Council would be more than prudent with past mishaps.
- · Newspaper advertising – The daily echo has higher levels of readership on certain days eg Thursday Jobs section. We would recommend spreading adverts across a week to ensure maximum coverage. We would also suggest advertising within NewsExtra, the free weekly paper delivered to Southampton homes.
- · In light of the 2 large scale fires at Biomass power stations and the June 2011 agreement for public consultations to focus on public safety issues could we ask that Helius provide information on what the affect of a large scale fire on the site would be with specific risk assessments shown for how the fire would be contained and any risk to residents/likely evacuation zones/road closures that would be caused by a large scale fire that could burn either controlled or uncontrolled for days.
- · We are also concerned over winter shadows. These could affect both Millbrook dual carriageway and local homes. It would be good if Helius could be asked to provide a light survey/calculation showing the extent of overshadowing that would be caused throughout the seasons.
We also ask that resolution (iii) from the Planning & Rights of Way Panel meeting of 26.10.10
“that the promoter (Helius Energy) undertake work with local primary schools as part of the public consultation exercise to raise awareness of the project and renewable energy.”
Be removed as a requirement as we feel this is a commercial proposal and of such a large scale as to make the argument of being a Renewable Energy source dubious at best. It is therefore a worry if our children are being educated by the company rather than their teachers. It is actually our belief with the increase in knowledge and scientific studies that have occurred since 2010, especially of large scale biomass plants with no CHP, relying on nearly wholly imported fuel sources, that it can now be proven that Helius’ proposal is actually more damaging for the environment than some sources of fossil fuels such as natural gas when looking at CO2 levels in the short to medium terms.
We also object to the use of the phrase “Switching on the Green Light”. We feel this is purposely mis-leading people in to a belief that this exact proposal is “Green Energy”. Throughout the further consultation strategy there is also a question of mis-leading and unqualified with regard renewable fuels and also the carbon impact of this project.
It is directly saying this project will mitigate CO2 from fossil fuel burning. As mentioned earlier the evidence is there that shows a carbon debt exists when dealing with large scale, non localised sourced biomass plants. Studies show this carbon debt may be in the region of 50-70 years before the equivalent of the carbon burnt within the plant is re-absorbed by new plant growth. This means in the short term these projects are actually releasing more CO2 than some current forms of fossil fuel energy consumption for power so are in fact causing an increase to the CO2 affect on global warming – an element completely ignored throughout the positive “green speak”!
Steven Galton on Behalf of No Southampton Biomass Group
Helius replied to this directly to the Council - nice of them to not CC in Steve/No Southampton Biomass! http://www.southampton.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=8350
No Southampton Biomass Council Deputation
Chris and Steve spoke at March's full council meeting after the Mayor exercised his discretion and allowed the group to make a deputation. Their full speech can be downloaded via the downloads page by clicking here.
Helius Released a Press Release showing there would be an amended site for the biomass fuelled power station at the Port of Southampton...
In Response we released this statement this afternoon:
As a group we are massively disappointed with Helius's news about the siting review and even more so as we had to read about it via the local press! Again this release lacks the kind of details we expect and more importantly need. We want to fully understand their new proposals and we are once again left with an anxious and unsettling wait until May before we learn the full extent of what they plan.
We do wonder how "listened to" we really are and is this really a community consultation when Helius's only communication seems via the local press, as opposed to directly with the residents who have registered an interest and the company is meant to be consulting with. Despite moving the siting back approximately 125 metres this will still leave the development within 250 metres of the nearest homes - this is a totally unacceptable distance for a large scale development to be. We can only hope their other revisions take better account of our other valid concerns.
As the Biomass Station Port of Tyne fire in Nov 2011 that took 30 firefighters and 24 hours to get under control and the recent uncontrollable fire at Tilbury Biomass Power Station that even when under control burnt for days and needed in excess of 100 firefighter's on hand - these plants are a massive health risk for any local residents and best available technology just isn't good enough! This proves our fears concerning the safety of such a large biomass power station so close to our homes and major dual carriageway are not unfounded. It is obvious Helius only care about profit and not the people they are putting at risk with their proposals and that's before we even get to their very shaky green credentials.
We hope the ongoing ROC Banding review will reflect the growing evidence that large scale biomass power is inefficient, unsustainable and is diverting tax payers money away from the truly renewable areas we should be pursuing for both our future energy mix and the benefit of our worldwide environment.
It is now a year on from our group coming together over the initial Helius proposal and we feel just as concerned about our future and our community today as we did then!
On Behalf of No Southampton Biomass
***DECEMBERS MEETING IS TAKING PLACE AT 8pm ON THURSDAY 8th DECEMBER 2011 INSTEAD OF THE USUAL WEDNESDAY***
Helius Released a Press Release stating there would now be no consultation in 2011 and it would now be early 2012 instead of the delayed Autumn 2o11 date, that in itself was a delay from Summer 2011 - not bad considering we were 2 days away from Winter and had requested this clarification only 6 weeks previously and been denied it by Helius...
In Response we released this statement:
Helius Energy should do the right thing and abandon the current proposal, only returning to the community should they wish, with a clear, concise and well thought out project that meets the needs of the local residents, resolves the residents valid objections to the current proposal before finally meeting Helius's own commercial interests.
The project still appears to be in a process of review and once this is complete there could be further implications on the need to examine the environmental studies and other complimentary reports. Helius may need to undertake further work to ensure the environmental studies/reports are relevant to any changes in siting, layout and external appearance. Only then could the project could be presented to the public for consultation. It would appear that by anticipating early 2012 Helius are being extremely ambitious once again, unless the new proposals were practically ready now, something their press release does not indicate and once again a cause for the community to doubt what Helius are telling us.
Surely we are actually talking more along the lines of late February, early March at the very earliest for any further public consultations - in all likelihood it could even be late March, early April before Helius could present their new plans. There is surely also a very strong chance that Helius will once again miss the anticipated April/May IPC submission date they have indicated as any delay, even slight will make preparing an application to this timescale hard.
If the new proposal is completely different to the old one it should be presented as a new project with none of the confusion surrounding the current proposal. If it is pretty much the same as the old one with a few minor tweaks then why have we had such a time between the last public consultations and the eagerly anticipated further consultations that still have no tangible timescale - the time gap itself does not bode well for an adequate community consultation via a process designed to speed up planning applications for developers!
Paul Brighton happily quotes in the Helius press release of 28/11/2012 that the company has carefully considered the comments received via the public consultation. It is almost to the point of insulting that Helius the company can release to the press these statements, whilst communicating completely the opposite to the very public they are consulting with. Below is taken from our email to Helius on the 14th October 2011
"The local community are more than just keen, we are actively waiting with bated breaths - a point that seems once again to have been missed by Helius and which provides another opportunity for you to clarify, even roughly, a timescale for this additional phase of consultation. You must know whether you are merely weeks away from presenting this (i.e. in line with your Autumn consultation prediction) or months away i.e. January/February consultation. Simply by stating your expected timeline on this, you would allow the community to return to some form of normal life without the fear of new plans being presented any day" - Steven Galton on Behalf of No Southampton Biomass 14th October 2011
This comment was answered by Helius on the 14/10/2011 with "As advised, Helius Energy will make a public announcement providing further details on the further programme of consultation prior to the commencement of that consultation"
As from today's press release it now clearly appears that Helius have yet to conclude any reviews let alone start any new environmental studies why could they not have stated this fact in October when asked and more importantly why put out a press release with so little information now when it is blazingly obvious, as we enter December, that we weren't getting a consultation in 2011 as previously indicated and another chance to provide even a small amount of clarity has been missed once again!
To conclude once again No Southampton Biomass are asking for Helius to withdraw their current, wholly unsuitable proposal. As the consultation to date has been so inadequate, we ask once again whether you could abandon this proposal and come back when you have a project that is acceptable both to you as a business proposition and to us as a community.
***WE ARE NOW MEETING THE 1st WEDNESDAY OF THE MONTH AT THE WATERLOO PUB CONSERVATORY - WE WILL NEXT BE THERE WEDNESDAY 2nd NOVEMBER***
We noticed an update on the IPC site to the date the IPC expected to receive an application from Helius. In light of this we sent a letter to Helius cc'd Southampton City Council Planning and the IPC.
We have created this page - PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ OUR LETTERS AND THE HELIUS LETTER IN RESPONSE - to show the latest correspondance with Helius as they replied to our letter and we have once again replied to them stating our dissatification with their lack of answers to a few very simple questions!
***WE ARE NOW MEETING THE 1st WEDNESDAY OF THE MONTH AT THE WATERLOO PUB CONSERVATORY - WE WILL NEXT BE THERE WEDNESDAY 5th OCTOBER***
Helius have still not announced when the next round of consultation will begin as we enter Autumn. Nothing is happening until Helius reveal their new proposal that will look at form and siting - The company really don't seem to care about how much anxiety they are causing our community and our desire to know clearly and concisely exactly what is going on now.
Why are they are so vague and constantly in a state of changing their mind over plans - still I'm sure they will still be able to release a lovely press statement explaining their actions as ones for the community yet again...
IN RESPONSE TO HELIUS'S PRESS RELEASE OF 18TH JULY WE REPLIED TO THEM WITH THESE COMMENTS:
The No Southampton Biomass group are more than slightly disappointed by the timing and content of your press release. You chose to ignore the residents requests to begin in the mid to late September timescale less than a month ago when we made the suggesting to you. I know certain people have put off booking their summer holidays to ensure they are around when you present your new plans addressing the size and look of the design. Now when we are all awaiting the mid July start of consultation you release a press release stating you are starting in the Autumn for the benefit of the residents... It almost beggars belief a professional and experienced company could so continuously fail to acknowledge that their actions were seriously affecting people. All along we have simply called on Helius to work with the people as opposed to against them - this may be just a business proposal to you but it is people's lives to us and we are repeatedly telling you how your actions are negatively affecting us and you just don't seem to care and then have the audacity to release in to the public domain your actions are being done for the benefit of the community!
Residents lives are being severely affected by your companies actions and we are just requesting a concise and adequate presentation of your plans and proposals. From the below and latest press release it now seems that the new plans are purely for external cosmetic appearance which contrasts your earlier press release of form, siting and external appearance. Yet again we will say to you that we feel you so badly failed to meet your legal obligations for adequate communication in stage I & II this continuation stage III is pointless as we will be calling on the IPC to reject the proposal at application stage due to the inadequacies of phase I and II. This phase III does now not even seem to constitute a big enough change to the original plans to even warrant an extended phase as all you are discussing is external appearance so already we are now at the point that questions of the phase III stage adequacy can already be asked of you.
In fairness to us all and to allow you to clearly and concisely present your proposal we call on you to withdraw entirely this application as it stands. Learn your lessons on public feelings on all the issues this failed application to date has thrown up and come fully prepared with a new proposal, accompanied with an accurate project timescale from the start to present any future plans you feel handle all local objection issues to give you a project that would be acceptable and most importantly beneficial to the local community. This could then be presented adequately following all current legislation and would not be marred by the inadequacies of this current project presentation.
We implore you to please listen to us and stop treating our local community with such little regard,
NO SOUTHAMPTON BIOMASS HAVE ISSUED A PRESS RELEASE ON 3RD MAY 2011 IN RESPONSE TO HELIUS'S PRESS RELEASE ON THE 26TH APRIL- READ OUR PRESS RELEASE BY CLICKING HERE OR READ HELIUS'S APRIL 26TH PRESS RELEASE HERE
NO SOUTHAMPTON BIOMASS HAVE SENT A LETTER OUTLINING OUR FEELINGS ON THE TOTALLY INADEQUATE PRE APPLICATION RUN BY HELIUS TO DATE AND REQUESTING HELIUS IMMEDIATELY HALT THEIR APPLICATION IN IN ITS CURRENT FORM - READ OUR FULL LETTER TO HELIUS AND SOUTHAMPTON CITY COUNCIL BY CLICKING HERE
We carry on in May working to research Biomass both in terms of this project and in general whilst trying to make sense of what exactly is going on with the Southampton Biomass Power Project as Helius leave us all wondering exactly what is going on!
To quote their own website about us section " (Helius) is experienced in promoting and developing biomass fueled power stations" - well our simple question is what has gone so wrong in Southampton then as it would be fair to say the proposal and presentation to date has and continues to be confusing and inadequate to the local residents - please realise Helius this is negatively affecting a lot of people's lives and well being...
Thank you for the great support shown at the IPC meeting on Wednesday 30th March. So many very searching questions were asked and certain council members and candidates put some very worrying statements in to the public domain on the adequacy of Helius to respond to information requests...
DROP IN SESSIONS NOW ON A WEDNESDAY
We will be carrying on our "informal" drop in sessions every Wednesday evening at the Waterloo Arms with the aim of arriving from 7.30pm for a 8.00pm start. If anyone wants to pop down to say hello, ask us questions or offer help in anyway we would appreciate it!
During April our Facebook group grew to over 800 and we've been busy writing letters, running market stalls and generally doing everything in our power to help promote awareness in the Helius plans.
Our protest on the Millbrook bridge on Saturday 19th March was very well attended and received a lot of press attention. We have a Member of the European Parliament (Keith Taylor, MEP) backing our group in opposing the Helius proposal. After looking into Helius's Southampton Biomass Power proposals, he has stated they are a 'NIGHTMARE!'. Keith Taylor also said air quality would fall and challenged claims of biomass being low-carbon energy.
We have also created a section on the website for the main local political parties to provide a comment on the Southampton Biomass plans. We maintain political impartiality but feel that the community has a right to know the position of local councilors and candidates on this important issue.
We will update you on our next planned events shortly so please re-visit the website or our facebook page again soon. Thank you for your support.
Our scale model (A massive thank you to Ken, a local resident, who has spent the time and effort to ensure a precision machined scale model that truly and accurately reflects the size of this proposed biomass project!) now has an additional scale model of Southampton Guildhall, a pylon and a double decker bus to help put things in perspective, click on the picture below to see more shots of the Southampton Biomass Power Station scale model: