Wetheringsett: U-turn over Mendlesham Renewable Energy Plant appeal method

Pig farmers are concered about the plans for a biomass plant in Wetheringsett which they argue would

Pig farmers are concered about the plans for a biomass plant in Wetheringsett which they argue would increase straw prices

Campaigners battling against a £100million biomass plant have succeeded in their calls for an appeal over the scheme to be heard in public.

Major farming businesses in Suffolk have been fighting the Mendlesham Renewable Energy Plant plans for Wetheringsett, since they were first announced in 2011.

After Mid Suffolk District Council refused planning permission last July, the company behind the straw-burning plant, Eco2, called for an appeal over that decision.

But campaigners, including Blythburgh Free Range Pork, Aspall Cyder, pig producer BQP and MP Dan Poulter all opposed the initial decision to hold the appeal in writing.

Now the Planning Inspectorate has made a U-turn on that decision and is to hold the appeal via a hearing.

Dr Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said: “I am very pleased to help win this decision from the planning inspector on behalf of my local residents. I am very hopeful there will be a good chance of rejecting the proposal.

“I have been working hard for many months on behalf of local residents groups and businesses and I am hopeful an open hearing will provide the best opportunity to defeat this unacceptable scheme.”

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Eco2 had pressed for the appeal to be heard in writing. Dr Andrew Toft, the firm’s director of projects, said: “All we want is for an inspector to take an independent look at the decision made by the council last July, given that this went against the recommendation of its own expert planning officers.

“If the inspectorate has decided that this requires a hearing then so be it. We are more than happy to make our case.”

Jimmy Butler, a partner of Blythburgh Free Range Pork, was pleased about the decision but said it was “not ideal” as campaigners had favoured a full inquiry.

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