Bristol biofuel plant given go-ahead by Eric Pickles

Plant at Avonmouth The plant would be capable of powering 25,000 homes

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Plans for a controversial biofuel plant in Bristol have been given the go-ahead by the government.

An application by W4B to build the power station at Avonmouth was refused by city councillors in February 2010.

But Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has approved it on appeal.

The plant, which will be fuelled initially by palm oil, has been attacked by critics who blame demand for the oil for rainforest destruction.

City planners had told the council last year to make its decision according to material planning considerations, not emotions.

But councillors went against the advice and voted 6-2 against it.

The council has six weeks in which it can challenge Mr Pickles' decision through the High Court.

W4B has said the plant would be capable of powering 25,000 homes.

'Current controversy'

Mr Pickles allowed the appeal, subject to a number of conditions which include only using bioliquid that satsfies sustainability criteria.

He said in his report that "given the current controversy about bioliquids...the council and other objectors acted reasonably in wanting to test evidence on this matter".

Mr Pickles added that the development would not have an "unacceptable effect" on the character of the area.

Rob Palgrave, director of the pressure group Biofuelwatch, said: "We are very disappointed with the outcome of the planning inquiry and Eric Pickles' subsequent decision.

"An awful lot of people put an awful lot of time into this campaign both in Bristol and around the country and it attracted some international attention, in particular from countries where the fuel for this power station will be produced, like Indonesia and Malaysia."

City planners had told the council last year to make its decision according to material planning considerations, not emotions.

But councillors went against advice from planners and voted 6-2 against it.

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