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Energy plant proposal near Tain is submitted to Highland Council by Acorn Bioenergy

By Ian Duncan

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Highland Council headquarters.
Highland Council headquarters.

A new anaerobic digester (AD) plant could be built near Tain if the proposal gets the backing of Highland Council.

Acorn Bioenergy has submitted a proposal of application notice about the plans to the authority's planning department.

The proposed site is 350m south of Fearn Aerodrome and, as well as the 100GW per year anaerobic digestion plant, the development would include ancillary infrastructure.

According to supporting information the applicant specialises in the development of AD plants across the UK and is committed to decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors by unlocking the full potential of biomethane production in Scotland.

The report states: "It is their intention to make an immediate impact by reducing CO2 emissions in transport, industry, and agriculture commencing in 2023 through the development of new AD plants in the Highlands, Moray, and Aberdeenshire.

"In May 2019, the Highland Council declared their commitment to addressing the climate and ecological emergency and stated an ambition of having the lowest carbon footprint of any local authority in Scotland.

"The applicant is committed to working with the Highland Council to assist with meeting their target of having a carbon neutral highlands by 2025."

The process of anaerobic digestion would allow the applicant to create a carbon negative energy source in the form of biogas.

The report added: "The biogas will be upgraded to biomethane which can then be used directly as an alternative to fuel to power vehicles and be injected into the national grid to provide renewable heat.

"Each AD plant across the Highlands, Moray, and Aberdeenshire will form a virtual pipeline, with biomethane being compressed to 250 bar and subsequently transported to the Injection Hub at Morayston, Dalcross via biomethane-powered trucks."

The proposed development at Fearn Airfield would comprise the construction and operation of an AD plant and associated infrastructure with a generating capacity of 100GWper year.

According to the report, the plant and associated infrastructure would include: gas flare; biogas upgrading and CO2 recovery unit; feed hopper; grid entry unit; heat exchanger; chiller; CO2 tanks, rainwater lagoon; silage clamps; and digestate storage lagoons.

The proposed site is approximately 7.07 hectares and includes the access road and is located within the Ross-shire Growth Area as described in the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan.

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