Straw-fired power station goes to appeal

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Mid Suffolk District Council’s planning committee was “wrong” to reject plans for a straw-fired power station in Mendlesham, according to the developer’s director of projects after their appeal was lodged with the Planning Inspectorate.

The proposed station, which the developers say would generate 300 million units of green energy a year - enough to power 65,000 homes - would create 200 jobs at the height of the development’s construction.

Councillors at Mid Suffolk District Council refused planning permission in July of last year, going against officers’ recommendations to approve the £100 million development.

They cited potential adverse effects on the agriculture, food and drink sectors, negative impact on the landscape, and transportation issues, at the time of the decision.

But the Planning Inspectorate, the government body which handles planning appeals, received the appeal from Eco2 earlier this month.

Andrew Toft, director of projects at Eco2, said: “Mendlesham Renewable Energy Plant is a sustainable development which offers significant economic benefits for the region and environmental benefits for the UK.

“The council’s professional planning team was correct in recommending that the project should be granted planning permission and the planning committee was wrong to over-turn such considered and expert advice. We look forward to an independent assessment by the Planning Inspectorate.”

A statement from Mendlesham Parish Council read: “The Parish Council maintains its concerns about an adequate supply of straw being available from the specified catchment area, adequate water supply in the event of fire, the close proximity of this site to a major route (A140) through Suffolk and Norfolk and the challenges of transport and access to and from the site. Until the grounds for the appeal are made clear to the Parish Council it is unable to comment further”.

A spokesperson for the Mid Suffolk District Council said: “The district council will robustly defend its position through the appeal process.”