Mendlesham: Bid for �100m straw-powered energy plant submitted

HUNDREDS of jobs will be created if proposals for a straw-powered renewable energy plant get the green light.

Renewable energy developer Eco2 Ltd has submitted a planning application to Mid Suffolk District Council for the plant near Mendlesham Industrial Estate, creating up to 200 jobs.

It would be designed to generate renewable electricity by burning straw in what is said to be a highly efficient, clean combustion process.

Key benefits of the �100million project would include secure contracts for straw which are expected to inject more than �8m per year into the local economy.

Dr Andrew Toft, director of projects at Eco2 Ltd, said: “This is a modern engineering project that builds upon this region’s strong agricultural heritage.

“Mendlesham Renewable Energy Plant offers tremendous economic benefits for Suffolk alongside environmental benefits that extend far wider.”

If approved, the 40MW plant will operate all year and is expected to generate about 300 million units of green electricity per year, equivalent to the needs of 65,000 homes.

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The scheme would create about 200 jobs during the two-and-a-half year construction phase, with an additional 80 jobs in straw baling, storage, transportation, operation and maintenance of the plant.

The planning application follows a public exhibition which was held last November, and an environmental impact assessment that studied issues such as transportation, landscape and visual impact, ecology and nature conservation, hydrology and hydrogeology, noise, air quality and archaeology.

Farmer David Nunn, of Mendlesham Green, said: “We clearly have to do something because we can’t rely on fossil fuels forever.

“Most of us believe that wind turbines are a waste of time, solar energy certainly has a place but I think we’ll end up with a bit of everything.

“I suppose my only concern would be that they will need a tremendous amount of straw and I’m not sure, as a farmer, they will get all the straw they need to power it at a price to make the project cost-effective.”