Government changes scupper greenhouse plans for Great Blakenham

Proposals to heat huge greenhouses from the Blakenham incinerator have been shelved.

Proposals to heat huge greenhouses from the Blakenham incinerator have been shelved. - Credit: Archant

Hopes of using waste heat from the incinerator at Great Blakenham to warm huge greenhouses to grow tomatoes have been dealt a fatal blow by a change in government policy.

The company behind the greenhouse proposal, Sterling Suffolk, still hopes to go ahead with the ambitious plan to grow millions of tomatoes on the site.

But they have been forced to abandon plans to pipe waste heat from the incinerator – and are now looking at installing biomass boilers instead.

Michael Blakenham said it was still hoped that one of the two huge greenhouses could be built and planted before the end of this year – but it would not get heat from the incinerator.

He said: “We are looking at biomass boilers and ground heat systems because the changes to the funding rules make the cost of changing the energy from waste plant too uncertain.”

He did not rule out the possibility of bringing in heat from the incinerator at a later date once the costs became more clear. He added: “We still want the greenhouses to be very environmentally-friendly.”

The original plan was drawn up by Sterling Suffolk and Suez (formerly SITA), the operators of the plant in association with Suffolk County Council.

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A joint statement from them admitted of using waste heat was over. It said: “Millions of pounds would however need to be spent on adaptations to the EFW (Energy From Waste) facility and on pipework to connect the two sites.

“The withdrawal of a Government subsidy for such projects before the glasshouses could reach fruition means it is no longer commercially viable to go ahead with the adaptations.

“Now it is clear that heat from the EFW plant cannot be delivered at this time, Sterling Suffolk is looking at other eco-friendly heat sources, including bio-mass boilers, for the glasshouse project.”

The county and Suez say they support the Sterling Suffolk’s proposals – but the change in government policy has caused delays.

Local LibDem county councillor John Field said he was saddened by the news – and felt that the loss of government support for heating schemes was very regrettable.

He said: “Homes were given planning permission on the basis that they would get heat from this plant and that is now not going to be possible. It is a major loss to the original aims of the plant.”

Elsewhere in the country greenhouses are warmed by waste heat from other plants – a huge tomato greenhouse at Wissington in west Norfolk is powered by heat from the nearby beet sugar factory.

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