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Biofuel power station go ahead backed by Greenpeace

Greenpeace UK has backed Britain’s first ever vegetable oil fuelled power station despite opposition from a biofuel campaign group worried over its environmental impact.

Blue-NG, a joint venture between National Grid and renewable specialist 2OC, which is set to build the Combined Heat and Intellligent Power (ChiP) plant in Beckton insists it can maintain a commitment to only using sustainable sources.

Greenpeace UK says sustainably sourced biofuels are appropriate in this case, but campaign group Biofuelwatch believes their use could still have a knock on effect on the wider biofuel market.

In a letter of support John Sauven, Greenpeace UK executive director, said: “If biofuels are to be used they should be used ideally in plants which capture heat and produce electricity rather than as a transport fuel.

“With transport it is far better to make vehicles more energy efficient rather than rely on biofuels for any carbon saving.

“Blue-NG asked for our help in developing a biofuel procurement policy that meets a high standard of environmental sustainability. We were happy to assist with this process.”

View the full Greenpeace UK letter here

Campaigners from Biofuelwatch were planning a protest outside the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation on Thursday when the plans were approved.

Biofuelwatch said the use of sustainable biofuels could force other less scrupulous companies to use other less sustainable sources.

Media spokesperson Almuth Ernsting said: “We are really worried this will set a precedent if it goes through and we have heard that several larger companies are interested in moving into the sector.”

The project uses a CHiP system to recover energy from the processing of natural gas.

Once complete up to 20MW of electrical power could be generated by 2010 and an additional 5MW of thermal power could also link in with local district heating schemes.

Blue-NG will sign a binding legal agreement with Newham Council to only use sustainable biofuel sources at Beckton.

Blue-NG chief executive Andrew Mercer said: “We have set a benchmark for sustainable procurement with our first site. It is embedded in our values. And it will continue to evolve and drive the development of sustainability criteria above and beyond the existing current UK and European frameworks for sustainable biomass.”

Blue-NG hopes to establish another scheme in Southall and six more pilot sites ahead of a major roll out to up to 80 more locations.