'World first' tomato greenhouses - bigger than O2 Arena - with one near Bury St Edmunds will create hundreds of jobs
A massive tomato greenhouse which will be larger than the O2 Arena is being built near Bury St Edmunds in a £120 million project creating 360 jobs in Suffolk and Norfolk.
Construction has started at a farmland site, in Ingham, on the ‘world first low carbon’ development, which will be warmed using waste heat from a nearby Anglian Water recycling centre.
It is one of two greenhouses being built by Greencoat Capital, with the other outside Norwich, and will be among the largest ever constructed in the country as each cover more than 13 hectares - larger than the 10 hectare O2 Arena.
The company, which is the UK’s biggest investor in renewable energy, says they will be able to produce more than 20 tonnes of tomatoes every day, which would be 12 per cent of the tomatoes grown in the country.
A Greencoat spokesman said: “Decarbonisation of the heating and agriculture sectors has so far been disappointingly slow despite their enormous carbon output.
“These pioneering greenhouses make a significant step towards solving both problems at scale, reducing the carbon footprint of food produce by 75 per cent compared to European equivalents and increasing UK food security.”
The greenhouses, developed by Oasthouse Ventures, will create 360 permanent jobs, rising to 480 during high season.
Construction is expected to be completed in autumn 2020. Commercial-scale growers from the UK and Netherlands have committed to leasing the space.
Closed loop pumps will transfer the heat from the water recycling centres to the greenhouses.
Electricity for the pumps will be provided by a combined heat and power plant.
Andy Allen, director at Oasthouse Ventures, said the environmental, social and political benefits of the ‘world first’ systems are significant and they ‘look forward to further disrupting the traditional carbon heavy models of agriculture’.