Delight as plant plans are rejected

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A DECISION to refuse plans for a biomass energy plant has been met with delight from objectors.

Norfolk County Council’s planning committee heeded advice from officers and turned down a proposal from MEIF Renewable Energy Holding Ltd in a meeting last Friday.

Stuart Wilson, from the Thetford Society, who spoke to the committee at the meeting, said the scheme was ‘nonsensical’.

“To put such a monstrous plant next to an SSSI [Site of Special Scientific Interest] on the outskirts of a town that is going through massive development anyway – it just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Mr Wilson told the committee that the proposed site for the plant – on greenfield land to the east of the A134 Mundford Road – was part of the Brecks unique eco-system. It was also situated in the ‘buffer zone’ of the Special Protection Area designated for the protection of the stone curlew.

The impact of the plant on the surrounding landscape – including an 80m high chimney stack – was a concern put forward by officers in a report to the committee.

But a statement from the applicant expressed its disappointment at ‘visual impact’ being cited as the reason for refusal.

A spokesman said: “After over four years of developing this particular project, we are naturally disappointed that the planning committee has seen fit to refuse this application.

“We worked with several planning officers from Norfolk County Council over this long period and considered and implemented a number of suggestions made by them, particularly in respect of landscaping and design.”

He added that the decision had prevented Thetford receiving ‘a number of green and economic benefits’ – including the creation of 40 jobs and ‘significant capital investment’.

MEIF will now review the committee’s report.