Plans for renewable energy plant

A MULTI-MILLION pound renewable energy plant - one of the first of its kind in the country - could be up and running on a former airbase by this time next year.

Craig Robinson

A MULTI-MILLION pound renewable energy plant - one of the first of its kind in the country - could be up and running on a former airbase by this time next year.

AgriGen Ltd, a company set up by a consortium of five east Suffolk farmers stretching from Bawdsey to Sizewell, wants to build the biogas facility at Bentwaters Parks, near Rendlesham.

Planning bosses at Suffolk Coastal have given the scheme the go-ahead subject to conditions and last night those behind the proposals said work could begin in the autumn.

The plant, which is likely to cost in the region of �5m, will generate enough power to provide electricity for up to 1,500 homes.

The family farms that make up the AgriGen Ltd consortium - known as the Three Musketeers - own around 22,000 acres in the Suffolk Sandlings area.

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They will use 7% of their land to grow the second generation energy crops needed to fuel the plant, such as maize and a type of grass called triticale.

This will then be taken to the facility at Bentwaters, which will use anaerobic digestion to break down the organic matter to produce a methane rich biogas to generate electricity to be fed back to the National Grid.

It will also create a nutrient rich waste product - in solid and liquid form - that can be applied on surrounding agricultural land as a replacement for mineral fertiliser.

Peter Hailes, of AgriGen Ltd, said he hoped the plant would be up and running by this time next year.

“That's the type of time frame we are aiming for,” he said. “It's very exciting. I think it will cost in the region of �5m.''

Steven Bainbridge, project manager for Woodbridge based agents The Landscape Partnership, said he was excited to be involved in the project.

“There are certain planning matters that need to be addressed first but work could start as early as the autumn,” he said. “By virtue of its scale and feed stock of second generation energy crops I would say it was one of the first of its kind in the country.”

A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal District Council said AgriGen Ltd had to comply with some very minor conditions related to off site planting of trees and shrubs and landscaping.

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