Eye: Suffolk Preservation Society has “serious” concerns over £200m power station

Eye Airfield where the power station is proposed to be built

Eye Airfield where the power station is proposed to be built

A society which guards against Suffolk’s heritage being damaged has expressed “serious” concerns over a proposed £200million power station.

The Suffolk Preservation Society has branded the plans for the gas-fired plant, earmarked to be built on Eye Airfield, as “inherently unsustainable”.

In a letter addressed to the company behind the plans, Progress Power, the society claims the development could have a “substantial” impact on the visual surroundings and has urged for a “serious review” to take place of its proposed site position in north Suffolk.

Fiona Cairns, society director, said: “The scale of the (chimney) stacks is such that it will be very difficult to mitigate in such an open landscape. It’s very difficult one way or another; there are lots of very serious issues that we are flagging up and there is a lot of work still to be done. We feel like we need to be reassured.”

She claimed the creation of jobs at the plant – up to 15 full-time positions – was “small fry” as the development would harm tourism in the area.

Progress Power has said during the plant’s two-to-three year construction phase up to 250 jobs would be created with a further 40-50 indirectly in the community, alongside the on-site positions.

A spokesman for the company said: “Progress Power has received the Suffolk Preservation Society’s views on the project. They will be carefully considered and addressed in the development consent application that we intend to make to the planning inspectorate next year.”

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The society also has concerns an electrical substation, which would be built as part of the development, should be restricted to a brownfield site. It claims if the substation was built at a greenfield site it would detract from the surroundings.

Eye Airfield is already home to two of the tallest wind turbines in the country – both reaching heights of 130 metres – with two more planned for the site.

County councillor for Hoxne and Eye, Guy McGregor, said because of the energy policy of governments over the past 20 years, projects such as these were necessary.

“Because of the quite disgraceful policy of protecting our energy supply over the past 20 years we are facing a real danger of the lights going out,” he said. “These facilities (the one proposed for Eye) are designed to be brought online very quickly. My objective is to maximise the benefits and minimise the impact. Early on my objective was to get the chimney stacks as low as possible – that’s been achieved. We are working to set up a community revenue stream for the lifetime of the power station, not a one-off capital sum.”

Suffolk County Council and Mid Suffolk District Council have both given their principle backing, as part of the proposal’s consultation, to the station. The Government is expected to make the final decision on the plans in 2015.

Last week Mid Suffolk councillors agreed to accept the Eye Airfield Development Framework, which details how the site could be developed over the next 18 years.

The planning document explains how up to 3,000 jobs could be created at the location, which sits next to the A140.

It is also claimed there is a “growing interest” in the site from manufacturing and logistics businesses.