CAMPAIGNERS say £11 million earmarked annually for a new biofuel power plant on Portland could be better spent on local services.

In the wake of council cuts threatening libraries, day centres and school crossing patrols, Portland protesters claim Government money is going to waste on the project.

W4B Renewable Energy plans to build a liquid biomass power plant at Portland Port on the edge of Balaclava Bay.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council planners gave the £35million complex the green light last January, but construction of the plant has yet to begin.

Members of the community group No Oil Palm Energy (Nope) claim the plant will cost the taxpayer £11million a year.

They are now running a competition asking residents what they would do with the money to benefit Portland and Weymouth.

Nope member Andrew Butler said: “The aim of this competition is to drive home to people in Portland that this is going to be costing us money, to highlight that this is a scheme that is not wanted by the majority of people in Portland, that enormous sacrifices are going to be made.

“We would like to go back to the Government and say ‘this is what people are saying their money should be spent on’.”

The plant will receive subsidies through the Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) scheme, granted to companies generating renewable electricity based on the amount of megawatt hours produced.

Nope has calculated that it will amount to £11million a year but W4B chairman Chris Slack said a figure has yet to be confirmed.

He said: “We are still planning to go ahead. We are waiting for the final decisions by the Department of Energy and Climate Change relating to the ROC subsidies, due in July.

“I haven’t looked at the numbers recently so I wouldn’t like to comment on the amount at all.”

Nope is running its competition on the group website <&bh""><&eh> asking residents for funny or serious answers on spending the £11million.

Entries can be posted on the website, emailed to <&bh"">nooilpalm<&eh> or mailed to NOPE Competition, 18 Ventnor Road, DT5 IJE by June 12.

First prize is a three-course meal for two people (excluding drinks) at The Blue Fish Café in Chiswell.

Biomass station factfile

Portland will be the site of a sustainable liquid biomass power station, which is being developed as a Special Project Vehicle by W4B Renewable Energy Ltd. The plant size is limited to 17.8MW due to grid availability. The site at Balaclava Bay is close to the dockside and oil will be delivered, via a pipeline, to storage tanks alongside the power plant. The green electricity generated will be connected, via a nearby substation, to the national grid.

When operational, the plant will deliver over 20 per cent of Dorset’s agreed contribution to the UK’s national target to obtain 15.4 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.