Biomass plans could help secure smelter sale

PLANS for a biomass facility at Rio Tinto Alcan could be revised to help secure a sale of the Lynemouth power station.

The company obtained permission from county planners in September to construct ten pellet storage silos at the site, with capacity for up to 75,000 tonnes, as part of a project to convert the coal-fired power station to biomass generation.

Bosses said that even if the site was sold the conversion would be essential to safeguarding its future.

However, as part of conditions attached to the consent, no more than 90 biomass laden lorries a day would be allowed to enter the power station, working between 7am and 7pm on weekdays, and from 7am to noon on Saturdays.

Now a new application has been submitted to increase the number of daily lorry loads to 96, with deliveries permitted between 6am and 10pm seven days a week.

The move seeks to align fuel delivery times with an application from the Port of Blyth for biomass storage and transport.

In a supporting letter to Northumberland County Council, Alcan Aluminium UK Environment Director John Clarkson said: “The application is consistent with the Port of Blyth application for biomass storage and transport and it allows for marginally more deliveries per day, but with an additional four hours per day of delivery time and an additional one-and-a-half days per week of deliveries.

“This should allow more flexibility for biomass deliveries from Port of Blyth to Lynemouth Power Station and should also allow more flexibility during morning and evening traffic peaks.

“The application follows further detailed discussions with the Port of Blyth on logistics for biomass storage and transport.”

The proposed changes come as Rio Tinto Alcan looks to offload the power station and close its Lynemouth smelter, with more than 600 jobs hanging in the balance.

Corporate Affairs Director John McCabe said: “The application is part of the process that we are involved in in trying to secure the sale of the power station. The sale talks are ongoing.”