Mendlesham: Energy plant plans put on hold

THE decision on the controversial proposal to construct a �100m straw-powered energy plant has been deferred to a planning referrals committee.

Councillors on a Mid Suffolk District Council planning committee made the decision after two legal representations were received overnight which “raised important issues” about the plans to build the Mendlesham Renewable Energy Plant, just off the A140.

About 40 people were packed into the council chamber in Needham Market as the meeting heard the council’s corporate legal advisor, Jonathan Reed, advise the committee to defer the decision as there were “issues of law” relating to the content and appropriateness of the plan’s report.

Some of Suffolk’s biggest agricultural and food businesses have urged planners to reject the proposal – claiming it could have a “disastrous” impact on the local economy.

Jimmy Butler, a partner of Blythburgh Free Range Pigs, who has opposed the plans, said: “It was inevitable really because of the representations that have been put in, it had to go the referrals committee. We have been pig farmers for 30 years and this year we ran out of straw. Where the hell is the straw coming from.”

Eco2 Ltd, the company behind the proposals, has said there is “more than enough straw” to supply the energy plant and that it would inject �8m-a-year into Suffolk’s economy and create 200 positions during the construction phrase and 100 permanent jobs.

Andrew Toft, director of projects at Eco2 said: “It is naturally disappointing that the planning process has been delayed. Given the timing of the late submissions to the council, we appreciate the need to allow for a short delay.” A date has yet to be given for when the planning referrals committee will meet to make the decision.