Mendlesham: Proposed energy plant could get �20m a year through Government scheme

A PROJECT to build a �100m straw-powered energy plant could receive more than �20m a year through a Government scheme to encourage its development.

The Mendlesham Renewable Energy Plant (MREP) project is earmarked to be built just off the A140 near Stowmarket.

Now it has emerged that, if built, the plant could receive more than �20million a year over a 20-year period, as part of a Government incentive to build renewable energy plants.

However, Blythburgh Free Range Pigs – one of a number of Suffolk companies which has publicly opposed the proposals – has criticised the news.

Jimmy Butler, a partner in the livestock company, said: “We feel it’s totally unfair.

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“As pig farmers we are not given any subsidy whatsoever. They have got the potential to earn �20m a year; no wonder they can afford the straw.

“Why should they kill off our pig and poultry industries? It’s a massive employer in Suffolk and East Anglia.”

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Opponents to the scheme claim there is not enough straw for the plant, and as a result it would disrupt a crucial market for many agricultural firms.

However, Eco2 Ltd, the company behind the proposals, insists there is enough straw, and argues the plant would inject �8m a year into Suffolk’s economy and create hundreds of jobs.

The figure of �20m a year comes by way of the Government’s Renewable Obligation, which is the main financial incentive for the building of renewable energy projects.

The scheme will give MREP an income over and above any money it receives for the electricity it produces.

It is paid by energy suppliers who have to buy a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources each year.

Eco2 said it was not able to comment on the figures involved, but Dr Andrew Toft, director of projects, said: “For each unit of electricity generated, a biomass plant faces higher capital costs, higher operating costs and higher fuel costs than a conventional power station.

“Nevertheless, renewable energy fights climate change and reduces the UK’s dependence on imported fuel.

“These virtues have prompted successive governments to encourage renewable energy despite its higher cost.”

Mid Suffolk District Council will decide the planning application.

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