Hopes are rising that production will soon resume at the huge tomato glasshouse near Ipswich which has been empty since the energy crisis hit early last year.

The glasshouse was built between Bramford and Great Blakenham by Sterling Suffolk. Initially the plan was to use waste heat from the nearby incinerator but eventually that proved impractical.

The company started growing tomatoes a few years ago - and many went on sale in Waitrose stores across the country.

However when the cost of gas rocketed at the start of last year following the Russian invasion of Ukraine the business became uneconomic.

Sterling Suffolk closed down and Amberside ALP bought the glasshouse in the hope of restarting the business.

However while the site has been maintained and kept in good condition, it has not been possible to restart production - but that could soon change.

David Scrivens from Amberside said there were crucial meetings over the next few weeks that could lead to the resumption of production.

East Anglian Daily Times: Millions of tomatoes were grown in the glasshouse.Millions of tomatoes were grown in the glasshouse. (Image: Paul Geater)

He said: "We have staff at the glasshouse maintaining it and really will be ready to move quickly when something is decided.

"We really do hope to have some good news in the near future."

One of the most crucial issues is getting a long-term energy contract in place so the cost of gas can be planned.

It was the huge rise in gas prices that sunk the previous operators - and Mr Scrivens said it was vital that the energy costs were known for months ahead before production could restart.

He added: "But if the conditions are right it should not be a major problem to get up and running relatively quickly."

East Anglian Daily Times: Chris Bavin visited Ipswich to show off the tomatoes.Chris Bavin visited Ipswich to show off the tomatoes. (Image: Archant)

Production at Sterling Suffolk originally started in 2019 when some of the company's products were sold on Ipswich market by TV presenter Chris Bavin.

In 2021 there was a record crop from the the glasshouse - but within months the whole economic foundation of the business was rocked by then international financial storm.