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UK 40MW biomass plant rejected by council

A biomass plant planned for Munford Road in Thetford, UK, has been opposed by the local council, which says the facility would have a visual impact on the surrounding area, including the Thetford forest.

The site would have burnt poultry litter and woodchips to power the plant, which Energy Power Resources (EPR), the company behind the proposed project, says would have saved about 120,000 CO₂ emissions each year, the equivalent of taking about 45,000 cars off the road. It would have created enough electricity to power more than 68,000 homes.

However, Norfolk County Council doubted the project would have been that environmentally friendly and it was worried about the amount of wood waste that would have been needed. It says about 180,000 tonnes of wood off cuts would have been needed each year, although only 20,000 tonnes would have been sourced from the local areas of Norfolk and Suffolk.

Other areas that would have supplied the plant were further afield, such as London and Essex.

The council also had concerns over the land on which the facility was to be constructed on, although EPR says it would have been just over 11 hectares in size and was not subject to any scientific, landscape or historical designations. Neither would have the development been carried out on land that was deemed ‘best and most versatile’ for agriculture.

However councillors said that they did not believe it was sustainable and that the land should instead be used for producing food.

EPR released a statement saying that they were disappointed with the rejection, especially after a consultation period of more than four years in which the company considered and implemented a number of suggestions made by the council, especially those regarding landscaping and design.

‘After this process, to have ‘visual impact’ as part of the rationale for refusal is disappointing. This proposal would have generated reliable power and provided the county of Norfolk with a step change to meet its renewable energy targets. In addition, the proposal would have diverted significant volumes of end-of-life waste wood from landfill,’ a spokesperson from EPR says.

The company says that as a result of the rejected application, 40 people will miss out on receiving long-term jobs.

‘In addition, the project would have brought many indirect opportunities to the area including transport and maintenance services. This is as surprising as it is disappointing given current economic conditions and the long term need for sustainable power generation. We will now consider the options available to us and fully review the official written report of the planning committee before deciding upon the best course of action to take,’ the spokesperson adds.