Robert's Weekly Swindon Advertiser Article - 23rd September 2015

There was an exciting announcement from Swindon’s energy sector last week: Advanced Plasma Power, the Swindon-based waste-to-energy and advanced fuels technology innovator, has secured £11m in Government funding to help build the first of a new generation of biofuels plants in our town.

I have visited the site and met the team several times over the last few years, and I was delighted when my friend and colleague, Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP, announced news of the grant as part of £25m awarded to winners of the Government’s Advanced Biofuels Demonstration Competition.

Construction of the South Marston plant, which will produce enough fuel to power all of the buses that work in Swindon when fully operational, will begin in 2016. The plant will take residual waste – the UK’s largest sustainable source of biomass – and convert it into compressed biomethane, using a pioneering technology developed by Advanced Plasma Power’s (APP) called Gasplasma.  Unlike some other biofuel technology, this doesn't involve growing crops or using wood, but instead uses waste products, many of which that would go to landfill sites.

Biomethane can be used together with natural gas in lorries and other heavy goods vehicles and is significantly less carbon-intensive and less polluting than diesel. It has the potential to cut transport carbon emissions by up to 96%.

Commenting on Swindon’s successful bid, Andrew said: “this is a great example of our commitment to innovative transport technology and supporting jobs and growth.  Advanced biofuels have the potential to save at least 60% of the greenhouse gas emissions from the equivalent fossil fuel. Swindon’s successful bid shows how the Government is investing in transport and making better, clean journeys.” I wholeheartedly agree.

I am a strong supporter of the use of waste to create new energy sources, and this announcement shows how technology can be used to reduce harmful emissions by producing clean biofuels on a local basis, and I am pleased that we have such a centre of innovation here in Swindon, adding to the groundbreaking fuel cell technology of Johnson Matthey and the hydrogen refuelling station at Honda, not to forget the developing battery technology at Mini too.  All in all, Swindon is leading the way when it comes to energy technology.  When I add in the energy conservation devices made by our very own Schneider Electric, the picture is almost complete.  My apologies to anyone I may have left out!

With just a few weeks to go until Swindon’s half-marathon on the 11th October, I’ve committed to squeezing in several practice runs a week and am buying myself a nice new pair of running shoes to replace my worn-out ones!!

The half-marathon is going to be a real challenge, but one that I’m very eager to take on. I’ll be taking part alongside Cllr Claire Ellis (Old Town) and seasoned marathon runner Cllr Keith Williams (Shaw) to raise money for ‘CALM’ (Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Movement) and ‘Hop Skip and Jump’ which offers respite care for children and young adults with disabilities and special educational needs.

I am proud to be raising money for two fantastic local charities which are committed to the care and support of children, young adults, and their families in Swindon. To everyone has already donated to my ‘JustGiving’ pages, my sincere thanks. It’s quick and easy to make a donation, and all of your money goes directly to the charities.

If you were able to sponsor me and help me raise even more, that. Please follow the links below for my ‘JustGiving’ pages, which also contain more information about the charities and the work that they do.

The CALM Trust:

Hop, Skip and Jump:

Thank you for your support.