May Day March Through Weymouth Sees Hundreds Protesting to Stop Portland Biofuel Plant
NOPE took to the streets of Weymouth on the busy May Day bank holiday weekend to enlist support for what is already a hot local and international issue. More than 200 people took part in a loud and colourful march, urging people to not be “biofools” and to reject plans for a biofuel power station in Portland.
Setting off from at Brunswick Terrace, the protesters marched through the centre of Weymouth for a Rally at Hope Square, where speakers included local residents and politicians.
The proposed biofuel plant at Portland Port faced strong opposition at the planning meeting where it was controversially passed in January and local resistance has been growing ever since. The NOPE group organised a protest march through Portland in February which drew over 400 people, while at a packed public meeting a few weeks ago the company behind the scheme (W4B) failed to convince residents that their plans were either safe or sustainable.
Some residents will be living above the chimneystacks in Portland, with fumes from the diesel engines that will be burning vegetable oil going straight into their homes. Of particular concern are NOx emission levels, which could be the same as those from 45,000 cars. Wind could also blow the waste from the chimneys over to the beaches of Weymouth, directly affecting the residents and visitors and negatively impacting an economy that depends on tourism.
NOPE has taken a firm position against biofuels because of the concerns with growing crops to produce energy. Palm oil, which W4B have stated they will use, has been linked to deforestation, directly and negatively impacting the people and animals living in the forests. Jatropha, another of the oils the company plan to use, has been shown to take agricultural land away from people in India and Africa, leading to increased hardship for local people.
At a meeting with then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband in April, NOPE members called for all subsidies for biofuels to be withdrawn and for all planned biofuel projects to be put on hold until the full impact of the fuel source can be carried out.
Portland resident and NOPE campaigner Catherine Bennett says, “Our campaign is gaining ground as local residents realise that this power station is not green, that it will have a very negative impact locally and globally and that unlike W4B and others of their ilk we do not want to take part in ‘The Age of Stupidity’, but rather do everything that we can to protect our area and prevent the catastrophe of climate change.”