Leith Biomass Plant (Consultation)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd March 2011.

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Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

8. To ask the Scottish Executive how many submissions concerning the proposed Leith biomass plant it had received by the 11 March consultation deadline and how many were objections. (S3O-13414)

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

The energy consents and deployment unit received 1,900 consultation responses from organisations that were consulted on the proposed development and from members of the public who submitted representations. Of those responses, 1,156 were objections, which include holding objections that were made pending the submission of further information; two supported the development; and 732 were received only recently and have yet to be logged. In addition to public representations, responses have been sought from a number of formal consultees.

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

I accept that the minister cannot give a view on the proposal, but I am sure that, if the future energy minister is sitting in the chamber, he or she will recognise the massive local opposition to the proposal. However, the current minister could give a view on a policy on large-scale biomass plants. Will he support, as a policy, a moratorium on developing such plants, on the ground that they will contribute nothing towards meeting our vital 2050 climate change objectives?

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

I note Malcolm Chisholm’s comments. We are working closely with the United Kingdom Government to help it to develop its biomass strategy. As he properly said, I cannot comment on live planning applications. It is obvious that I cannot comment on any call for a moratorium on applications for large-scale biomass plants when ministers are involved in determining the process for such schemes.

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

I put on record my tribute and best wishes to Jim Mather as he answers his last question as a minister. [Applause.]

Given the strength of local opinion on this issue, I will find consensus with Malcolm Chisholm at this point, before we fight the same seat in the election campaign.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Just come to a question, please.

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

Given the strength of local opinion, will the minister pass on advice to his successor about the need for a public inquiry on the proposal, so that the public in Leith have a further chance to respond?

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

I note that suggestion. We should note that the process has been properly followed, open and consultative. I hope that such features will be the hallmark of future processes.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Before First Minister’s question time, I know that members will wish to join me in welcoming three visitors to the gallery: the chairman of the Council of Federation of the Russian Federation, Mr Sergy Mironov; the ambassador of the Russian Federation to the UK, His Excellency Alexander Yakovenko; and the Austrian ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Dr Emil Brix. [Applause.]