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‘More glass than The Shard’ – Huge tomato greenhouses are nearing completion

PUBLISHED: 11:45 25 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:18 25 September 2020

A huge tomato greenhouse taking shape at the Crown Point Estate at Kirby Bedon outside Norwich is due to enter its �testing and commissioning' phase this autumn. Picture: Step Associates

A huge tomato greenhouse taking shape at the Crown Point Estate at Kirby Bedon outside Norwich is due to enter its �testing and commissioning' phase this autumn. Picture: Step Associates

Step Associates

A huge tomato greenhouse is nearing completion outside Norwich – part of a £120m project using more glass than The Shard skyscraper in London.

A huge tomato greenhouse taking shape at the Crown Point Estate at Kirby Bedon outside Norwich is due to enter its ‘testing and commissioning' phase this autumn. Picture: Step AssociatesA huge tomato greenhouse taking shape at the Crown Point Estate at Kirby Bedon outside Norwich is due to enter its ‘testing and commissioning' phase this autumn. Picture: Step Associates

The “world-first” low-carbon farming project on the Crown Point Estate at Kirby Bedon is due to enter its “testing and commissioning” phase this autumn, said project managers.

Along with a similar development near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, the combined project could supply an estimated 10pc of the UK’s tomato crop using a hydroponic vertical growing system.

The scheme is also using the UK’s largest system of heat pumps to distribute natural energy which the developers claim will cut the carbon emissions associated with growing tomatoes by as much as 75pc.

The Norfolk greenhouse, covering 16 hectares of land, is being built next to Anglian Water’s water treatment plant so the waste heat from the sewage works can be channelled into the greenhouses to provide the ideal growing temperature for millions of tomatoes, along with peppers and cucumbers.

Mark Dykes, director at Step Associates. Picture: Sally Edwards PhotographyMark Dykes, director at Step Associates. Picture: Sally Edwards Photography

Carbon emissions from an on-site electricity plant will also be funnelled into the greenhouses for the plants to absorb to aid their growth.

READ MORE: Colman family’s pride as construction work begins on vast tomato greenhouse

The greenhouses, which are set to start growing crops this winter, are 7m tall and allow tomato vines to grow vertically along guide wires from 77km of growing gutters. The tomatoes will be grown hydroponically from nutrient-rich water solutions instead of using soil. The project is also expected to create up to 360 permanent jobs in East Anglia, and up to 460 during peak season.

Mark Dykes, director at project managers Step Associates, said: “This project has been a long and rewarding journey. The greenhouses, being a world-first in their use of renewable energy, have positioned the UK as leading the way in a low carbon solution to growing sustainably, and will hopefully pave the way for similar projects.”


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