East Anglian producers prepare for new power plant fight

Pig producers in the East of England are once again preparing to fight plans for a straw-powered electricity generating plant to be based at Mendlesham in Suffolk.

The developer, Eco 2, has decided to appeal against the decision by Mid Suffolk District Council which turned down its planning application for the biomass plant in July 2013.

Eastern region farmers say allowing this plant to be built would be catastrophic for the pig and poultry industry as it will use copious quantities of straw.

The campaign is being led by Howard Revell, Peter Crichton and Jimmy Butler, who have issued an open letter to producers in the East asking for their support.

“We all know how important straw is to our industry producing to Freedom Food and Red Tractor standards and it has become a major cost,” the letter says. “The building of this plant would increase the cost of straw, we would estimate, by 25%, and this would be an annual cost increase.  

“There just isn’t the straw available to service both the pig industry, other livestock farmers and these biomass plants that are being built at an alarming rate in East Anglia. This will be the third one to be built in East Anglia, which is the second largest pig producing area in the country.”

A barrister was taken on to fight the application in July last year, and the group want to bring him back on board for the planning appeal.

“It is our opinion that the same barrister should act for us at the appeal for continuity, his understanding of our case and his obvious ability,” the letter says. “An approximate fee for his services is £20,000. Half of this amount can be raised by the local residents leaving the other half to be raised by pig and other livestock farmers and the allied trades that depend upon these farmers for their business.”

The letter appeals for businesses to pledge an amount to defend straw costs.

“We are appealing for pledges of between £100 and £1,000 depending on your size of business and requirement for straw,” it says.

A meeting has been arranged to discuss the planning appeal at BQP’s headquarters at Stradbroke on February 20, 2014, at 3.30pm, where there will be an opportunity to meet the barrister.

For more information, or to make a pledge, contact Peter Crichton.

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