The fate of a £200 million gas-fired power station at Eye Airfield is closer to being decided after a public inquiry was held during the week.
Developers Progress Power say up to 250 jobs would be created for the construction period, as well as 15 permanent skilled jobs, should the plans be given the go-ahead. The equivalent of 400,000 homes could be powered by the electricity the station could generate.
The inquiry, held at the Best Western Brome Grange Hotel, near Eye, gave objectors and concerned parties the chance to have their say.
The Planning Inspectorate will offer a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, who will make the final decision.
A spokesperson for Progress Power said: “Progress Power has brought forward its project in accordance with relevant planning guidelines and energy policy, and has worked with the local authorities and other interested parties to mitigate the impact the project as far as possible, and we will await the outcome of the examination process. We expect a decision in the second quarter of next year.”
Mid Suffolk District Council and Suffolk County Council have given their principle support to the project.
Meanwhile, awareness group Common Concern, formed in November 2013 in a bid to keep the local community informed about the project, claim the proposed electrical substation will “decimate not only our countryside but also our heritage.”
It follows an independent report by Dr Adrian Chadwick. He had initially been commissioned by Parsons Brinckerhoff Ltd, on behalf of the developers, to conduct a report examining the potential significance of field boundaries, but received criticisms by Dr Alex Gibson on behalf of the Prehistoric Society, and by Professor Tom Williamson of the University of East Anglia.
His independent report said: “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.”
A statement on the Common Concern website reads: “No matter how desperate our need for power can Progress Power really justify decimating what is being described as ‘unusual survivals of considerable significance’?”
A spokesperson for Progress Power added: “The location of the substation is one of a number of issues which will form part of the examination process being conducted by the Planning Inspectorate.”