Planning permission granted for Thomas Heatherwick's new biomass power station
Planning permission has been granted to Thomas Heatherwick and his team to create a new biomass power station on a brownfield site in Stockton-on-Tees, Teesside. The 49 megawatt station is set to bring a £150 million investment to the region, providing power for over 50,000 homes, as well as creating hundreds of jobs during the construction period and beyond.
The application itself was submitted by Bio Energy Investments, who intend to power the station using palm kernel shells – the by-products of palm oil plantations. In using a so-called ‘waste product’, BEI will be providing the palm growers with additional revenue whilst removing a waste product that the growers themselves cannot use and ensuring that no land is diverted from food production. As the project is located on the bank of the river Tees, all fuel is set to be delivered by ship rather than lorry, therefore significantly reducing the impact on roads in the local area when the plant is in operation.
In an attempt to increase the number of low carbon communities, BEI-Teesside has been named as the pilot in the ‘Planning Performance Agreement’ scheme, announced in December by housing minister John Healy. The station is set to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80%. The outer structure of the power station is designed to be entirely constructed from organic curved panels, planted with indigenous grasses. Heatherwick’s idea behind this is to make the meeting of the power station with the earth indistinguishable, so that the building appears to be emerging from the ground.