A MILLION pound biomass plant funded by Dungannon Council and South West College will lead to the creation of jobs and cheap heating and electricity for the town, it has been revealed.
Schools, businesses and homes in the town centre could soon be enjoying a warm relationship with the local council - thanks to the innovative plan to generate free heating at the plant which will be built at the grounds of the council offices.
The council hope to pipe heat from the state-of-the-art generator across a 2km network, encompassing not only the South West College Dungannon campus and the Leisure Centre but also local schools and homes.
Outline planning permission for the renewable energy facility has already been approved, and the council is meeting on Wednesday with Forestry Department officials to investigate sites in the local district which would supply the wood.
UUP Councillor Walter Cuddy said the biomass plant would offer economic and environmental advantages to the town.
“We believe the plant will be a win-win opportunity for everyone in the district providing huge savings, particularly in terms of heating the leisure centre and swimming pool, the cost of which currently runs into tens of thousands of pounds.
“We envisage a payback period of 5-7 years, which might be even shorter should fuel prices keep rising.
“We also plan to roll the heating network out to the local district. We have examined similar schemes currently in operation which provide heating across a 2km radius, and believe that this might be achievable in Dungannon.”
Dungannon council currently own a willow forest sited near Eskragh lough, and plan to take over further forestry sites across the district, including one near Aughnacloy.
“We want to have our own sources of willow and wood to fuel the plant, and are even considering using wood collected at the council’s recylcing centres”, added Councillor Cuddy.
“This will create jobs and in future years keep council rates lower.”