Mendlesham: Doubt grows over Eco2’s plant proposals

THE company behind the controversial plan to build a �100million straw-powered energy plant has been invited to withdraw its application.

The plan to build Mendlesham Renewable Energy Plant just off the A140, near Stowmarket, has suffered a major blow.

In a Mid Suffolk District Council executive committee meeting last week it was revealed the authority had been taking legal advice over the plans.

A legal challenge made by objectors ahead of a planning meeting in July forced the plans to be deferred to the council’s referrals committee.

Now because of concerns over the alleged lack of investigation into alternative sites, the council has asked the company to reconsider the plans.

Eco2 Ltd, the company behind the plans, said the outcome of July’s meeting is still being discussed.

A spokeswoman for Eco2 said: “We are hoping that the matter can be resolved soon, given the urgent need in the UK for renewable energy capacity.

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“It would be inappropriate to comment further until there is an agreed way forward.”

A planning portfolio report, which was handed out during the meeting last week, said the planning application had been ‘one of the most controversial’ to have been received by the council.

The report also revealed there had been concerns made by objectors that Mid Suffolk had ‘not processed’ the application correctly.

The concerns were over Eco2’s environment statement which – the objectors claim in the report – failed to investigate the possibility of constructing the plant at alternative sites.

In the report, the council are said to “broadly agree” with the objectors on the alternative sites point.

Some of Suffolk’s biggest agricultural and food businesses had urged planners to reject the proposal but the council’s planning team recommended the application for approval earlier in the year.

Jimmy Butler, a partner from Blythburgh Free Range Pigs, had claimed there would not be enough straw to power the plant.

Sam Surl, a local objector to the plans, said people had spent thousands of pounds challenging the proposals.

Eco2 said the plant would inject �8m-a-year into Suffolk’s economy and create hundreds of jobs. And the company has said there is “more than enough straw” to supply the energy plant.

A spokesman for Mid Suffolk said the planning report is the council’s current position on the application.