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Mendlesham/Stradbroke: Pig farmers meet to discuss appeal ‘fighting fund’ against Eco2’s plans for biomass plant

PUBLISHED: 13:27 21 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:27 21 February 2014

Pig farmers and those involved in the industry have been on high alert since African Swine Fever was found in pigs in Lithuania

Pig farmers and those involved in the industry have been on high alert since African Swine Fever was found in pigs in Lithuania

Pig farmers raising a ‘fighting fund’ to oppose Eco2’s plans for a biomass plant at Mendlesham on appeal say they they are “humbled” by the support they have received.

Producers met at Stradbroke yesterday to discuss their plans.

“The fund raising has been extremely encouraging,” said organiser Howard Revell. “There is overwhelming support to continue the fight to make sure that the issues in this appeal are publicly scrutinised and a balance struck between all the social, economic and environmental factors involved.”

Pig producers claim the proposed plant will cause a straw shortage and push up prices, but this is denied by the company, which says that farmers will benefit.

The meeting, which included members of the livestock industry and residents, was well attended and “very productive”, said Mr Revell.

Opponents of the proposed plant estimate they will need around £20,000 to pay for legal help. They hope that half can be raised from local residents, while the other half is drawn from pig and other livestock farmers.

Mr Revell said that they were “shocked” that Mid Suffolk planners have agreed with Eco2 that the appeal should be dealt with by the planning inspector on paper rather than being subjected to a public inquiry where all interested parties can have their say.

“There is overwhelming support to continue the fight to make sure that the issues in this appeal are publicly scrutinised and a balance struck between all the social, economic and environmental factors involved. We do not believe that the many adverse impacts of this development in this rural locality and the defects in the application have been properly recognised by the planners who have, from first to last, always recommended approval.

“The planning department seem to think that renewable energy is the same thing as “sustainable development” and that is not always right. The elected councillors recognised that this large scale industrial proposal is not sustainable development in this locality. The executive at Mid Suffolk District Council should now robustly defend the views of the elected Councillors by taking external and independent advice. We have had to go to the expense of instructing experienced counsel throughout the whole process. Mid Suffolk District Council should now do the same.”

Eco2 argues that the proposed £100million biomass plant at Mendlesham won’t harm livestock farmers, and will be good for cereal farmers who produce more straw than livestock farmers can use. It is appealing against last July’s decision by Mid Suffolk District Councillors to reject its plans by 16 votes to one.

A Mid Suffolk District Council spokesman said: “As this appeal is on-going we are unable to comment in detail at this time. However, Mid Suffolk District Council will be defending the decision of our planning committee to reject the original application throughout the appeal process.

“With regards to the manner in which the appeal is being dealt with, the final decision on the procedure to be followed lay with the Planning Inspectorate, who selected the most appropriate procedure based on a number of criteria, and not with the district council.”

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