Wetheringsett-cum-Brockford: Councillors say no to £100million biomass burner near Mendlesham

Dr Andrew Toft, director of projects at Eco2 Ltd, at the site the company is looking to develop

Dr Andrew Toft, director of projects at Eco2 Ltd, at the site the company is looking to develop - Credit: Archant

Campaigners who fought against a £100million biomass plant were last night celebrating after the proposals were voted down by councillors.

Some of Suffolk’s biggest food and agricultural businesses, including Aspall Cyder, British Quality Pigs and Bacton Pigs Ltd, had opposed the proposals for the straw-burning plant in Wetheringsett-cum-Brockford, near Stowmarket.

Last night councillors at Mid Suffolk District Council voted to refuse the planning application which went against officers’ recommendation for approval.

But already the company behind the plant - Eco2 Ltd - has said it will appeal the decision.

Speaking in the meeting. district councillor for Wetheringsett, Charles Tilbury, said: “The site is too small to provide proper screening - why not find a larger site. If this project is so essential to the local economy I find it inconceivable that a more suitable site cannot be found after all how many sites were examined for energy-to-waste until the one at Great Blakenham was settled upon.

“Sloppy site selection is no excuse to shoehorning a straw-burning plant into a minuscule and inappropriate site.”

Andrew Toft director of projects for Eco2, said: “We are absolutely going to be appealing the decision. It is a ridiculous conclusion to a long and drawn-out process. From my perspective I cannot see this decision being sustained at an appeal.”

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He was questioned by councillors during the near-four hour meeting on a range of concerns including the availability of straw, possible emissions and the effect a fire at the plant would have on the nearby A140.

It was revealed in the meeting that in the event of a fire at the plant the A140 would likely close for days as firefighters carried out a controlled burn of the straw.

But Dr Toft said systems would be in place to prevent fires from starting and discussions would take place with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service to help mitigate the risk.

Eco2 has argued the plant would pump millions into the local economy and create 80 jobs. But campaigners said the plant, which would need 240,000 tonnes of straw a year to run, would pose a threat to traditional farming businesses which rely on the resource.