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Acorn Bioenergy unveil Buckie biogas plant proposals

By Alan Beresford

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PLANS to build a biogas plant near Buckie took centre stage at a public consultation in the town's Fishermen's Hall.

Acorn Bioenergy's Scottish Development Manager Natalie Dillon with some of the plans for the proposed Buckie biogas plant. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Acorn Bioenergy's Scottish Development Manager Natalie Dillon with some of the plans for the proposed Buckie biogas plant. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Renewable energy firm Acorn Bioenergy have unveiled proposals which, if given the green light by Moray Council planners, would see two plants built in Moray, one near Hill of Rathven by Buckie at the junction of March Road and the A98 and other at Longmorn, on the outskirts of Elgin. The Buckie plant would occupy around seven hectares of land.

Each plant, it is estimated, would create around 15 permanent, well paid jobs.

Last Thursday saw representatives from the firm invite local people along to share their views and suggestions on the scheme. The event followed on from a similar consultation held in Fogwatt Hall last Wednesday.

Sustainability was the underlying principle behind both developments, explained Acorn's Scottish Development Manager Natalie Dillon.

She said: "We compare the process used to make biogas to a cow.

"Materials such as rye, animal manure, straw and distilling co-products are put into sealed tanks – like the stomach of a cow – where they are broken down by naturally occurring bacteria. This produces biomethane and CO2.

"The biomethane is injected into the national grid and we'd expect the Buckie plant to produce enough gas to heat 7000 homes or fuel 270 HGVs for a year. Some of the gas can also be used by distilleries, which are sometimes too far from the grid and have to ship in gas by tanker.

"There are a number of options for the CO2 produced. It can be conditioned to be used in the food and drink industry, it can be used to help grow food in glass houses or it can be sent to the North Sea for sequestration. Another use for the CO2 is to make biofertilisers, which can come in either liquid or solid forms. The liquid form can be spread on farmland while the slid form can be used as a peat substitute in compost.

"At the moment we're importing a lot of CO2 so it's almost as important as the biomethane, in many ways.

"All of the products from the two plants would be used locally, having a minimal carbon footprint is vital to what we're looking to achieve here. We want them to be close to farms and distilleries as well as have good access links."

Ms Dillon went on to say that the permanent jobs that would be created by the project would draw on many of the transferable skills already existing among the Moray workforce and would encourage labour retention within the region. It is envisaged that construction of the plant would create around 100 jobs.

She went on to say that should the planning process go smoothly Acorn were estimating that the plants would go online at some point in 2024, with the construction phase taking between nine and 12 months.

A second round of consultations are due to be held on Wednesday, January 18 at Fogwatt Hall from 1.30pm to 6pm and the following day in the Fishermen's Hall from 2pm to 6pm. These consultations will contain updates on the plans, including the results of various surveys.

Acorn Bioenergy has submitted Proposal of Application Notices (PoANs) for both sites to Moray Council.

The company was recently granted planning permission by the Highland Council to develop a gas injection point at Morayston, near Inverness, where the biomethane will added to Scotland’s national gas grid.

Acorn has also applied to the Highland Council for planning permission to develop an anaerobic digestion plant at Fearn Airfield, in Easter Ross.

For more information about the company, please visit www.acornbioenergy.com

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