BIOMASS will be used at Honda to generate electricity after Swindon Council granted planning permission for an energy centre at the South Marston plant.

The decision is seen as a vital sign of encouragement for any other firms interested in renewable energy in Swindon after the council threw out plans for a biomass plant in Cheney Manor last week.

Eight permanent jobs are likely to be created as a result of the centre.

Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) submitted a planning application for the energy centre, which will generate electricity and hot water through gasification of pre-chipped, clean, recovered wood, on December 17 last year.

In January, Peter Vandeputte, CEO at Pure Green, the firm behind the Cheney Manor biomass application, said their application should be accepted by default if Honda’s was given the green light, given their similarity.

However, Coun Des Moffatt (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney), who strongly opposed Pure Green’s plans from the start, is adamant Honda is offering a far greener prospect for the town.

“I am very happy with this decision because this is gasification, a new technology,” he said. “There is no burning of wood.

“They will heat the wood until gas is released from it. It is this gas which is then burnt to create the energy. The only thing coming out the chimney will be CO2 mainly.”

Coun Moffatt was also confident the decision by planners was a clear sign of encouragement for renewable energy in Swindon, after the widespread opposition to the Cheney Manor plans.

“This is an important statement. It is critical for Swindon Council to support green energy, but we won’t be taken in,” he said.

“We will support genuine green energy and we know the difference.

“What Honda has done is an example to any industry. They researched their subject and understood it completely before they started talking about it with the local community.”

The man leading the project for Honda was unavailable for comment, but Jason Smith, a director at Honda, said: “We are obviously very pleased with the decision and now look forward to turning this plan into a reality.”

A spokeswoman added: “Honda has been working for some time on its strategy to develop a mix of renewable energy technologies, such as solar PV and biomass.

“The energy centre, working in conjunction with the photovoltaic developments, will make Honda’s Swindon plant a global benchmark in energy risk management.”

Barry Thunder, of South Marston Parish Council, said: “We welcome the fact they have got a renewable system which doesn’t impinge on the quality of life in our village.

“Lorry movements are associated with such a thing. “An extra 10 lorries would get lost in the day-to-day transport and not really make anything different for local roads.”

The energy centre will have a gross output of 4.5mw and process 49,000 tonnes of pre-chipped, clean, recovered wood per year.

The proposed energy centre will consistently supply electricity directly into the operation, providing the Honda site’s base load energy requirement, and generating the equivalent of 30 per cent of the site’s total annual electricity demand.

The centre will be built at the northernmost border of the Honda site, on an area of land protruding into the South Marston Industrial Park.

The one chimney at the centre will measure 26 metres in height, three metres than existing stacks located in the main body of the manufacturing site.