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Green Councillor shows flaws in plans for polluting gas plant in heart of Bristol

A Green Party Councillor has hit out at plans to build a gas generator plant in Bristol, raising concerns about high levels of air pollution on a site close to a nursery. The proposed development is by Conrad Energy Development for a gas powered plant at Philip Street Scrapyard in St Philips Marsh, just 80 metres from St Philips Marsh Nursery School.

Councillor Clive Stevens submitted a report to a planning meeting taking place on Wednesday 15 May opposing the plans, citing potentially illegal levels of noise and air pollution and high carbon emissions, and highlighting a list of problems with the application.

Councillor Stevens said:

“Despite the declaration of a climate emergency in Bristol, in Parliament, and across large swathes of the UK someone has forgotten to tell the capitalists. In this case it is Conrad Energy Development who are bringing a planning application to install 3 gas powered electricity generators in an area of St Philip’s Marsh next to a nursery school, scheduled to become an area for business and housing. 

“Parliament may have declared a climate emergency but the UK Government are yet to take any action – the Government’s so-called Sustainable Energy Policy still encourages gas usage! Because of this government policy the Council’s planning officers are actually recommending approval. So there’s a chance that despite the best efforts of climate activists and local protesters this development could be passed.”

Councillor Stevens previously campaigned against plans for a diesel generator in St Phillips Marsh throughout 2016-2017. The proposals were eventually quashed after pressure from local residents and activists.

In his statement to the planning meeting [attached] Clive has asked a number of pointed questions to draw the committee’s attention to problems with the application – listing nineteen different issues.

Questions include:

- Will the dense row of pine trees next to the exhaust chimneys trap the poisonous exhaust emissions and cause higher concentrations?

- Why hasn’t the air quality report included the people who will be working all day right next to the generators and suffer the full force of the noise and pollution?

- Why has the officer not insisted on offsetting 20% of the carbon emissions (the maximum allowable) and instead suggested 0%?

Councillor Stevens added:

“This land is in central Bristol with developments starting to go up all around. Some eventually to be with affordable housing. If this goes ahead residents will have to suffer the noise and air pollution from this gas plant so the rich can pay out more to shareholders. If Conrad Energy want to make a killing from providing electricity to the grid they should do it in a way that doesn’t harm other people.”

Others objecting to the proposal included Green Party candidate for Mayor, Sandy Hore-Ruthven, who said:

”The proposed gas power Station in St Philips Marsh is another example of good intentions being trumped by expediency.  It is easy to ‘declare’ a Climate Emergency but much more difficult to implement one. Building a gas powered generator now means that it will be a generation before the power station is dismantled or renewed and so Bristol’s target to become carbon neutral by 2030 becomes harder still.  

“Turning down this proposal would send a clear message that we are looking for a different way to generate energy.  We support carbon free alternatives that keep the air clean for our children and the planet.”

Developers Conrad Energy state that small gas plants are important to provide the UK with peak demand energy. However there are alternatives to manage peak demand, such as battery storage. In 2017 a battery storage project was commissioned in Lockleaze after plans for a diesel plant were rejected. A large project built in Australia has already saved the energy grid approximately $40m in its first year. 

Background

-          Health impacts of air pollution on children are numerous and WHO reports that “air pollution has a vast and terrible impact on child health and survival” - https://www.who.int/ceh/publications/air-pollution-child-health/en/

-          Research on the health impacts of air pollution in Bristol in 2017 found that around 300 deaths per year, or about 8.5% of deaths in the city, are attributable to air pollution - https://www.bristol.gov.uk/documents/20182/32675/Health+Impacts+of+Air+Pollution+in+Bristol+February+2017.pdf/4df2fce5-e2fc-4c22-b5c7-5e7a5ae56701

-          Cllr Stevens’ statement to Bristol Council’s planning meeting can be found here.

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