Developer submits energy plant plans

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A PLANNING application to build a straw powered renewable energy plant near Mendlesham has been submitted to Mid Suffolk District Council.

The proposed plant would be built on land adjacent to Mendlesham Industrial Estate and is expected to generate some 300 million units of green electricity per year, which is equivalent to the needs of 65,000 homes.

It would produce electricity with a generator driven by a steam turbine which would be fuelled primarily with straw but supplemented by wood chip.

The straw would be supplied by farmers within a 50km radius of the plant, as a by-product of arable crop farming, and would inject a predicted £8 million per year into the local economy.

Dr Andrew Toft, director of projects at Eco2, the energy developer behind the project, said: “This is a modern engineering project that builds upon this region’s strong agricultural heritage. Mendlesham renewable energy plant offers tremendous economic benefits for Suffolk alongside environmental benefits that extend far wider.”

Eco2 says the project would create around 200 jobs during the two and a half year construction phase, with a further 80 permanent jobs to follow - 50 in straw bailing, storage and transportation and 30 in the operation and maintenance of the plant.

A public exhibition was held at the end of November to introduce local residents to the scheme.

One person objected to the application on Monday, in part, because of the high number of lorry movements expected ‘on the already busy A140’, with no plan to protect minor roads from ‘becoming rat runs for large lorries’.

“It may sound ‘green’ to call this a biomass energy plant but in truth it is an industrial power station which should be situated on a brownfield site or industrial area not in the middle of the Suffolk countryside,” they said.