Council asks businesses for help raising £1.6m to power employment site - 14 months after saying new £160m biomass plant would solve the problem

The Biomass Power Station being constructed at Snetterton, just off the A11.

The Biomass Power Station being constructed at Snetterton, just off the A11. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

A council which told businesses a new biomass energy plant would 'unlock' an employment area could be looking at a bill of up to £8.5m to fulfil its promise – and has gone back to firms to ask for help raising money for an alternative solution.

Breckland Council told businesses in November 2014 that the £160m Snetterton Renewable Energy Plant – currently being built off the A11 –would provide electricity to kickstart the Snetterton Heath employment area.

But when plans were approved in 2012, the council did not include a condition to ensure power would go back to Snetterton when the biomass plant opens in 2017 – only that it would have the potential to do so.

It is now reaching out to businesses to fix the lack of electricity, with two solutions being mooted.

They include spending £8.5m connecting the employment land to the grid at Diss – a prospect which Breckland admits is unlikely until enough interest in shown in the area by businesses.

Among those affected is the Attleborough firm Pearn Wyatt & Sons.

Stuart Bizley, an independent surveyor for the company, said Breckland had assured firms the project would solve the energy problems at Snetterton Heath.

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'Everybody was under the understanding that the biomass plant would solve the power problem at Snetterton. We're not the only ones. That's not currently happening but it could work by connecting to a substation.

'We are pleased Breckland have found a solution, but how they pay for that is another thing,' he said.

The first solution being considered would see £1.6m spent on connecting Snetterton's existing power infrastructure to a sub-station at Attleborough. This would deliver an extra six mega-volt amps (MVA), taking the capacity to 9MVA.

For this to happen, Breckland plans to invest £25,000 to secure a contract option with UK Power Network, committing it to install cables, if funds can be raised by October. It is asking businesses to give their views on the plans.

The biomass plant project is owned by BWSC EAL.

What do you think? Have you been affected? Let us know by emailing andrew.fitchett@archant.co.uk

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