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Neath Port Talbot Politics South Wales

Aviation fuel plant approved in Port Talbot

How The New Sustainable Aviation Fuel Plant Could Look In Port Talbot Part Two (Pic: LanzaTech)

PLANNING permission has been granted for the creation of a major new industrial facility in the borough of Neath Port Talbot.

The project named ‘Project Dragon’ will be led by developers at US-based firm LanzaTech, and will see the creation of a sustainable aviation fuel production facility based in the town of Port Talbot.

Plans for the development were approved by Neath Port Talbot Council at a meeting on March 26, and it will be located on a former-industrial brownfield site at Port Talbot’s Crown Wharf.

It came after the company secured £25m from the UK Government’s Advanced Fuel Fund, to deliver the project as part of its efforts to reach the 2050 net carbon zero target.

Once completed, developers say it could produce as much as 100 million litres of sustainable aviation fuel per year, by using an alcohol-to-jet facility to turn sustainably sourced ethanol into aviation fuel.

They added that it could also create over 150 full-time jobs in the area, including 85 jobs on the site, along with more business generated further down the supply chain.

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It comes at a time of turmoil in Port Talbot, after it was announced that the town’s steelworks site will likely lose it’s two iconic blast furnaces in place of an electric steel-making arc furnace over the course of 2024, with a potential loss of as many as 3,000 jobs.

Members of Neath Port Talbot’s planning committee heard a presentation from officers which highlighted the potential scale of the new facility, and welcomed what was described as a major development for the area.

Councillor Rob Jones said it was an exciting application that would not only create well paid jobs, but potentially encourage other businesses to invest in the area in the future.

He said: “To be honest I think this is a very exciting application and something that is desperately needed in the area. We can never forget that the area that is proposed for this application is in fact an industrial area in the first place and therefore its sits very well within that ground swell of location.”

Members later voted unanimously to approve the plans for the facility, that will be the first of its kind in Wales. Jim Woodger, the LanzaTech UK’s managing director, said: “We are delighted that Neath Port Talbot Council has approved our planning application.

“This milestone marks an important step for Project Dragon and demonstrates the potential for Port Talbot to transition to clean green industries that build on its heritage whilst providing jobs and wider benefits for the local community.”

Construction of the facility is now expected to start in the winter of 2024, with production scheduled to begin in 2026, though a statement from the company notes that this time-line is “subject to securing the legislation, investment and off-take agreements that are needed to move forward to a final investment decision.”

Plans say once up and running the facility could  be operational 24 hours a day for 365 days a year, with the proposed site including “storage tanks, installation of pipework and electrical, processing and utility equipment, administration, warehouse and laboratory buildings, new access, car parking and transport infrastructure.”