All posts by langlands

Biomass Plans set for Public Exhibition

Keep out! But will biomass be in?

By Tony Garner

Forth Energy are to give the public a chance to view plans for a controversial new biomass plant at the Docks in Leith.

The company announced exhibitions at the St James’ Centre, South Leith Parish Church, and Ocean Terminal on the 10th, 12th and 13th of November respectively.  The exhibitions will include panels showing detailed plans of the site and information about the company’s aim to bolster Scotland’s renewable energy sector.

A Forth Energy spokesperson said the exhibition was being publicised by flyering and advertising in local press.

But Greener Leith, a conservation group, have called into question the company’s commitment to openness.  ‘They don’t provide answers to serious enquiries,’ Alasdair Tibbit told Edinburgh Napier News.  He said Forth Energy had failed to answer the question of how long the plant would take to offset its initial carbon debt.  The Scottish Government have set a target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, but Tibbit claimed it would be over a century by the time the biomass plant could really be called carbon neutral.

Greener Leith are spearheading strong local opposition, including Labour MP’s Mark Lazarowicz and Sheila Gilmore, who recently tabled a House of Commons question on the issue, as well as Green MSP Robin Harper.  Campaigners object to the sourcing from Canada and continental Europe of the woodchip residue fuel which the plant needs to operate.

‘If Forth Energy were serious about doing this properly they would be co-ordinating with the Forestry Commission and Scottish companies and making long term agreements for fuel supply’, Harper said.

Both Harper and Greener Leith accept the potential of biomass as an alternative to fossil fuels, but believe the Forth Energy proposal is poorly conceived and too large for the site.  The principle of biomass energy is that trees are replanted to directly offset the carbon dioxide produced by those that are burned.  The plants start their life in ‘carbon debt’ because of the energy expended in the initial construction phase and in transporting the organic material to the plant itself.

The final plans will be submitted to Scottish Ministers early next year, with a decision expected later in 2011.  The SNP have made support for the alternative energy sector one of the key planks of their first term in Government, with First Minister Alex Salmond in Glasgow yesterday to announce a £70 million fund for renewables projects.  If the biomass plant does get the go-ahead, Forth Energy would be helped by some of these generous public subsidies.





Project Prevention hits UK with bumpy landing.

By Luke Langlands

“If every drug addict woman got into treatment and got clean it would be wonderful, but that’s not the reality…money motivates people – it’s a bribe”. These are the words of Barbara Harris – the founder and head of Project Prevention – the US organization set-up to “bribe” drug addicts into sterilization for $300. Harris is now plying her trade in the UK, with a recent visit to Glasgow and more planned in the future.

Continue reading Project Prevention hits UK with bumpy landing.

UK timezone leaves BST

Different times zones all over the world can prove a business stumbling block

Unless you’ve got a fancy DAB radio or new-fangled mobile phone, then you will be given a nice little surprise when you wake up, as the clocks went back this morning from 2am back to 1am, marking the end of the British Summer Time (soon to be renamed British Mild And Cloudy, But At Least It’s Not Raining Time). You may live to lament the wasted opportunity of an extra hours sleep…

Hearing that the clocks are going back evokes a similar reaction to most people – the dread of colder days, darker mornings and less sunshine.

In this modern day and age, is there any need for the BST/GMT alterations at all? There has been calls at Westminster to scrap the annual procedures altogether. However, the Scottish National Party remains against the ideas, as many parts of Scotland would be plunged into darkness for much of the day if the clocks were not altered, as was seen between 1968 and 1971 when BST was maintained all year long. The UK saw a reduction in road-traffic accidents by the thousands, and it has been forecast that the economy would see a boost of one billion pounds if the experiment were tried again. Conservative MP Tom Yeo believes that the public opinion is “Strongly in favour” of the change. Research has also shown that leaving BST helps people sleep much easier.

Dr. Ian McKee MSP is, in his own words ‘old enough to remember’ when the three-year long experiment took place, and described the time-alteration in a recent interview as “absolutely devastating…we have tried, the experiment failed, we must carry on as we do now.”

News Roundup – 6th October @2pm

Tommy Sheridan, the founder of the Scottish Socialist Party has been accused of lying under oath during a defamation trial, along with his wife Gail. The Glasgow couples are accused of lying during the successful action against the News of the World in 2006. Both deny the allegations.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox has scalded the Labour as “short-sighted, self-serving, incompetent, useless and ineffective” during the Conservative party conference. He went on to attack the previous defence secretary’s, citing the debt they have left to the country as a big problem.

France is the latest country to warn citizens that a terrorist attack in Britain is ‘very likely’. The United States, Sweden and Kuwait have also issued warnings.

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton claims that current owners George Gillet and Tom Hicks have no legal ground to stop the £300 million takeover of the club by Boston Red Sox owners New England Sports Ventures. Despite accepting a bid earlier today, the deal is said to be far from a done deal. Gillet and Hicks claim that John Henry’s bid does not have the club’s best interest at heart, and that the amount offered undervalues the club. The Premier League, who will have to approve the takeover, has so far refused to comment.

Pregnant women are being given mixed advice on whether it is safe to drink small quantities of alcohol during pregnancy. Experts at University College London have revealed that 1-2 units of alcohol per week show no effect on the child. Jacquie Gerrard from the Royal College of Midwives has said she would still be strongly against anyone drinking alcohol whilst pregnant. Drink awareness charities have also warned that women could become complacent with the amount of alcohol drunk during pregnancy because of the new findings.

A sell-off of council land is underway in Edinburgh in order to generate funds for new public projects and reinvigorate the city’s development market. Fifteen separate deals are being looked at, with new student housing, hotels and shopping outlets being discussed.

A popular zoo chimpanzee, Charlie the chimp, known for his excessive smoking habits, has died at the age of 52. Despite his chain-smoking habits, zoo owners are saying that they do not believe his smoking led to the death, as he was ten years older than the average life expectancy of chimpanzees.

X Factor contestant Gamu Nhengu has been told to leave the UK and return to Zimbabwe after her visa ran out. Nhengu caused controversy on X Factor after claims were made that she was not picked for latter parts of the television show when producers discovered that her visa was due for renewal. However, Nhengu’s mother has explained that she has only heard these stories through the media, and nowhere else.