Biomass plant in Chirk will save 600 jobs

Published date: 04 February 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A BID to build a biomass plant safeguarding hundreds of factory jobs has been given the green light.

Proposals for the Kronospan factory on Holyhead Road, Chirk, which will also have a recycled wood fibre offloading and screening facility, will help secure the site for its 600 employees, according to the company.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the development last night.

Planning permission for a similar proposal was previously granted in September 2012, but the new plans substitute the previous scheme with a smaller biomass plant.

The proposed biomass would generate up to 32mw of renewable heat to use in manufacturing at the site.

Yesterday’s decision came despite concerns from neighbours about noise, dust, visual impact on the nearby World Heritage Site and air quality issues.

Lawrence Isted, Wrexham Council’s head of community wellbeing and development, said in a planning committee report: “The very nature of the Kronospan operation is such that it requires a significant amount of heat in the manufacture of chipboard, MDF and associated products.

“Given the energy intensive nature of the manufacturing process, continuing fragility of energy supply and increased market prices, the guaranteed delivery of heat at the level required to efficiently operate the plant represents a significant risk to the business.

“The development of the biomass presents a unique opportunity to provide 32mw of renewable heat using wood residues arising from the manufacturing process.

“The biomass plant would help secure the site for its 600 employees and 2,500 people indirectly employed by Kronospan’s operations.”

Addressing concerns raised by nearby residents Mr Isted said: “While I am awaiting revised predicted noise levels, I’m confident the proposal will not cumulatively increase noise at identified receptor positions.

“The release of dust from the construction of the plant will be based on best practice measures.

“Gases generated during the combustion process would be cleaned before being released into the atmosphere, via the proposed biomass stack.

“While the World Heritage Site is reasonably close, it is well screened by virtue of both topography (canal cut) and vegetation cover.”

Cadw, which seeks to protect the historic environment and heritage sites of Wales, has said that despite it being close to the World Heritage Site, it will have “no significant” additional visual impacts.

Reacting to the vote, Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said: “I welcome the committee’s decision to grant approval for this new facility which represents a crucial investment plan for the future of the Kronospan plant.

“These revised proposals will secure a sustainable future for hundreds of skilled workers and I applaud the company’s vision.”

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