Eye: New gas power station proposed for Suffolk airfield

Eye Airfield

Eye Airfield

A HUGE new £200million gas-fired power station could be built in Suffolk to provide electricity for 400,000 homes.

But the prospect has raised fears of miles more pylons going up across the countryside as the power is taken from Eye Airfield to the National Grid at Bramford.

Progress Power Ltd, an offshoot of Edinburgh-based Stag Energy is putting forward the £200m proposal which it said would plough tens of millions of pounds into the local economy, support hundreds of jobs during construction and create up to 30 new jobs when operational.

It said if it could secure the green light and get financing in place the scheme could be up and running by 2018.

However local county councillor Guy McGregor warned that problems with linking the power station to the National Grid could mean more pylons – and it would further turn the Eye Airfield into an industrial landscape.

Mr McGregor said: “The attraction of this site is that the gas pipeline from Bacton goes right past Eye. However the power is needed in London, and how do you get it to the National Grid?”

He felt the proposal showed a lack of strategy in the government’s energy policy: “Gas power stations convert energy that could be used for other purposes like heating or cooking into electricity – and when you convert energy some is inevitably wasted.”

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Eye Airfield already hosts two wind turbines and the chicken litter power plant, and has an area identified for development as an energy park.

But Mr McGregor warned: “That site will be increasingly dominated by huge energy businesses – the turbines already tower over the village of Brome and there are massive questions about how you get the power away. Would there be more huge pylons?”

Neighbouring councillor Andrew Stringer from the Green Party said the country was facing an energy gap because of the closure of polluting coal stations and first-generation nuclear plants – but he was doubtful about the Eye proposal.

“There’s the proposal to build a straw-burning power station in Mendlesham. When we asked why that couldn’t go at Eye we were told there wasn’t the infrastructure to take the power away.

“If there wasn’t the infrastructure for a straw-burner, why is there going to be the infrastructure for a much larger gas power station?”

Progress Power project manager Chris McKerrow said: “This will be an ultra-modern and clean facility and a very significant investment in the local economy.

“We are determined that there should be as much local economic benefit as possible, not only during construction and commissioning which could take up to three years, but for many years thereafter.”

The proposed plant will take gas from the nearby National Gas Transmission System and use it to produce up to 299 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to supply around 400,000 homes. This electricity will feed into the National Grid.

The first phase of public exhibitions will be held at Eye Community Centre (Magdalen Street) on: Friday, May 17 – noon until 5.30pm and Saturday, May 18 – 9am till 1pm.