Plans for a bioliquids power station in Bristol were made more sustainable thanks to the work of local people, Biofuelwatch and the Friends of the Earth Rights and Justice Centre.
After a huge local campaign, Bristol City Council refused a planning application for a bioliquids power station, because of concerns over the environmental impacts of bioliquid production, which it said it was allowed to take into account because of policies in the local plan on global sustainability.
The fuel required for the power station equalled the entire amount of palm oil used to transport biofuels in the UK in 2009/2010, equivalent to 13% of all palm oil imports into the UK in 2007.
You can find out more about the issues surrounding biofuels used for energy by looking at our natural resources materials.
The developer appealed to the Secretary of State, so a public inquiry was held by a Planning Inspector to hear the case again. Our lawyers acted for Biofuelwatch, who worked in coalition with many other groups to object to the development.
The Inspector made an early decision that the global environmental and social impacts of bioliquid production were not a "material consideration" in a UK planning decision. This meant that they couldn't be considered at all, no evidence could be brought on those points, and implied that Bristol City Council had been wrong to reject the development on that basis.
The Friends of the Earth Rights and Justice team made strong legal arguments that fuel sustainability was a material consideration to the Inspector and to the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State accepted this.
Although the power station was granted planning permission, he imposed conditions that all fuel to be used at the station had to meet European Union sustainability standards, and the developer must report to the Council annually so that they can enforce this condition.
As the environmental and social harm from bioliquids becomes clearer, future decision makers may have to go further, to be able to show that they have accounted for fuel sustainability in their decisions.
© friends of the earth