Wetheringsett: MP Dan Poulter questions Mid Suffolk over biomass burner
11:30 19 February 2014
A Suffolk MP has put pressure on a council to favour holding an appeal over plans for a £100million straw burning biomass plant in public.
Junior health minister Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, wants an open meeting to discuss the plans for the plant, which would be built in Wetheringsett, near Stowmarket.
But the developer, Eco2, has requested the appeal, which follows Mid Suffolk District Council’s decision to dismiss the proposals last year, to be carried out in writing.
Eco2 claimed both sides had agreed for an appeal based on written representations to “keep costs down at a time when all councils’ budgets are stretched”.
Angry residents and businesses have contacted Mr Poulter to express their concerns. He said: “I am pleased that the leader of the council is now directly involved and has agreed to look at the meeting and consider whether or not to change the council’s decision.”
Major Suffolk companies including Aspall Cyder have raised concerns about the plant’s impact on their businesses and on farming industries.
Derrick Haley, leader of Mid Suffolk, said the council was reviewing the issue.
He said: “We had a long discussion and I am sure we will talk to him again soon on the subject.
“At the moment there’s a number of issues raised that we are looking at and will reply to them when we get all of the answers.”
Mr Poulter has urged the council to “robustly defend” its decision – which saw councillors vote against the plans by 16 votes to one. He said the council’s reputation was at stake over the issue.
Andrew Toft, project director for Eco2, has said the appeal through written representation would be “wholly democratic” as it would require a planning inspector to consider both sides’ views carefully.
He added: “The fact is that the council’s professional planning officers recommended approval of this project and this recommendation was overturned by its members. All Eco2 is seeking is an impartial second opinion.”
If the appeal is successful, Dr Toft said the plant would create 200 jobs during construction and more than 80 full-time jobs when complete. It is also expected to save around 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
No date has been set for when the appeal over the proposals will take place.