MP fears £200m power station would “forever blight” Eye people’s lives

Eye, Suffolk. Eye gas power station consultation at Eye Community centre pictured is Chris McKerrow, Chris Mawson, Chris Leech and Guy McGregor ENGANL00120130520095823
Eye, Suffolk. Eye gas power station consultation at Eye Community centre pictured is Chris McKerrow, Chris Mawson, Chris Leech and Guy McGregor ENGANL00120130520095823

MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich Dr Dan Poulter has urged the Planning Inspectorate to reject the application for a £200 million gas-fired power station proposed for Eye Airfield, claiming it would “forever blight the lives of people that live there.”

Developer Progress Power says 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.

But the north Suffolk MP said the proposed development would “forever change the character of the town and adversely affect tourism”, while an increase in traffic on the A140 combined with “additional potential hazards” could “exacerbate the problem.”

His letter also states concern about the size of the substation, proposed for fields in Yaxley.

A decision on the plans will be taken by Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, following a recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate and is expected later this year.

A spokesperson for Progress Power said the firm had met with Dr Poulter on a number of occasions to discuss the project, which local authorities, in principle, support.

His letter said: “It is rarely my practice to seek to intervene in planning issues, but this is a matter of huge significance that would impact adversely on the lives of people living in a large area of Suffolk, resulting in huge disruption on an ongoing basis and significant loss of amenity.

“Eye is an unsuitable site for the plant as the development of the project would lead to the over-industrialisation of an essentially rural area and at the same time remove potential for local economic development and employment.

“Further, the capacity of the proposed site for accommodating large structures has already been maximised to full potential and already accommodates a 12MW power station, a gas compressor station and four wind turbines.

“There is also the important issue that the land proposed for the plant has always (with the exception of two years during the Second World War) been arable land used for farming and the development of the land for a power station would constitute the loss of a greenfield site.”

It continues: “In my opinion, the benefits of building such a large industrial site are negligible to the local economy and non-existent to people living in the area.

In fact, the profoundly adverse effects of building this large scale industrial development in a rural area can only serve to change the character of the area forever and blight the lives of people that live there.

“I strongly support the objections of my constituents and Eye Airfield Parishes Working Group an

urge you to reject this application.”

A spokesperson for the Planning Inspectorate said Dr Poulter had not registered as an interested party, and said it would be down to the discretion to the inspector whether to accept this representation.

They added a reply to the letter would be sent in the near future.

A spokesperson for Progress Power said: “We have met Dr Poulter on a number of occasions to discuss our proposed project, which is presently being considered by the Planning Inspectorate. We have explained to Dr Poulter and the Planning Inspectorate our reasons for choosing the airfield site for the location of the gas-fired power station, which in principle the local authorities support.

“We have also explained our reasons for the location of the substation, and outlined the work that we will undertake to minimise its visual impact, including the undergrounding of the necessary electrical connection. In addition, we have outlined our initiatives to bring wider benefit to the local area, whilst working with the local councils.

“If our project is approved and built, it will help deliver the Government’s energy and environment policies.”