Proposed Eye power station will “decimate” heritage of area

Progress Power wants to build a gas power station at Eye Airfield

Progress Power wants to build a gas power station at Eye Airfield - Credit: Archant

A residents group have claimed part of a proposed power station on a former military airfield will “decimate” the heritage of the area.

Common Concern have made the claims following responses submitted to the examining authority in relation to a proposal by Progress Power at Eye Airfield for a gas-fired power station with a generating capacity of up to 299 megawatts.

The land surrounding the airfield, where the electrical substation is proposed to be sited, has been found to be of national significance, following assessments of the field systems, which are believed to date back to the prehistoric age.

Hilary Butler, from Common Concern, said: “The electrical substation is to decimate not only our countryside but also our heritage.“Progress Power have been repeatedly asked to consider in more depth the effect their proposals will have on our countryside, our built heritage and our communities.

“Now it appears that we have what can only be best described as a rare prehistoric landscape on our doorsteps and this area is now set to be the home of the electrical substation.

“No matter how desperate our need for power can Progress Power really justify decimating what is being described as unusual survivals of considerable significance? Are they to be allowed to cause ‘substantial harm’?

“All for just 65 days a year power generation, that amounts to just four years actual operating time in the power stations anticipated 25-year lifetime.

“These sites are disappearing fast and there’s no benefit to the people of Suffolk, but we’re going to wipe something out that’s been there for hundreds of years.”

Tom Williamson, professor of Landscape History at the University of East Anglia, for the Eye Airfield Parishes Working Group, said the proposed development will cause substantial harm to a highly important historical landscape which all sides in the argument agree has its origins in the late prehistoric period.

Most Read

Alex Gibson, honorary president of the Prehistoric Society, said: “The removal of such significant assets could be considered substantial harm, and while they could be carefully excavated and archeologically recorded, this is no substitute for leaving them intact in the landscape, standing testament to the way our ancestors created and sustained their agriculturally based society.”

David Eve, inspector of historic buildings and areas for English Heritage, said: “Even if the boundaries represent a palimpsest of surviving later boundaries laid on ancient lines rather than features of prehistoric date they are unusual survivals of considerable significance.”

In a re-assessment of a first draft examining the field systems, Adrian Chadwick said some areas were “considered to be of high significance for the potential contribution they could make to national and regional research objectives” and added: “The boundaries are probably of prehistoric origin, and may preserve deposits or features that could provide absolute dating, palaeo-environmental or artefactual evidence relating to the development of the later prehistoric landscape.

“They might also provide key insights into important medieval or post-medieval agrarian changes.”

Dr Chadwick had originally been commissioned by Parsons Brinckerhoff Ltd, on behalf of Progress Power, to produce a report examining the field systems, but the re-assessment was made independently, as he no longer works on behalf of the engineering and design firm.

A spokesman for Progress Power said: “Progress Power notes Dr Chadwick’s revised report, but as we’re currently in the middle of the Planning Inspectorate’s examination period, we won’t be making any comment.”