There has been excellent news for jobs on the Isle of Anglesey with the announcement that a new biomass plant and an associated eco-park is to be built. The new plant and park will be located on the old Anglesey Aluminium site, just outside Holyhead. Anglesey Aluminium closed its aluminium smelting operations in 2009, and 400 jobs were lost, adding to the burden of an area with high unemployment and few career prospects for young people. The new biomass plant and eco-park will cost £1bn, be open by 2018, and will create 1,200 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs, so this is excellent news for the area.
The biomass plant will process food waste and scrap wood to produce power, and is expected to be able to produce enough for 300,000 houses, while disposing of unwanted waste in as eco-friendly a way as possible. It sounds like a win-win proposition, but it’s even better than that. The by-product of electricity generation is heat, and this will not be wasted. The heat will be used to create warm water for the indoor farming of king prawns, and the waste water from the king prawn farming will be used to grow vegetables. Although king prawns are a popular delicacy in the UK, they all have to be imported from distant places such as Thailand, which adds a massive number of food miles to the product. To be able to produce them locally will be of enormous benefit, and I for one can’t wait to buy the first Welsh king prawns as soon as they are available!
Young people and local businesses to benefit
As well as providing much-needed jobs in the area, Orthos, the company building and operating the eco-park, will be liaising with local schools, training providers and businesses to ensure the correct skills are developed in a sustainable manner. The eco-park and power plant will provide a real boost for an area that has suffered greatly over the last few years following the demise of the various industries that traditionally used to provide jobs for school leavers. It’s not only young people who will benefit – increased jobs and therefore cash flow in the area will help to revitalise local businesses and suppliers too.
There is an additional biomass plant planned for Port Talbot (another highly depressed area in Wales), and the proven technology is destined to be utilised in China as well as various developing countries. According to Lewis LeVasseur, who is the Orthos chief operations officer, the new plant demonstrates an excellent means of combining power and food production that would not only be of value to Anglesey’s population in terms of jobs and skills development, but also a vital step in helping other nations along the development route.