MP’s concern over number of South West Norfolk biomass plans

Fears have been raised that Norfolk could be losing prime agricultural land over plans for a host of new biomass plants.

Concerns have been aired in the Commons by one Norfolk MP who said that the growth of the bio-energy sector may compromise food security in the future.

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss called for the government to review its policy on subsidising renewable energy plants fuelled on locally grown crops, straw and animal waste.

She called on the government to take steps to ensure high-value crops are not used to create energy.

The Conservative MP will be meeting with colleagues next week over the 'proliferation' of biomass applications springing up across the countryside.

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Ms Truss said she had received 'a lot' of correspondence from constituents concerned about the number biomass projects.

'There have been a number of applications for biomass plants across South West Norfolk including Croxton, Kenninghall and Feltwell, driven by subsidy. I am concerned that we need to protect prime agricultural land in a county like Norfolk and I want the government to review the regime.

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'We are talking about the impact on the landscape and losing high quality land for food production,' she said.

In the last year, a biogas renewable energy scheme at Kenninghall has been approved and a plant off Mundford Road, Thetford, was rejected by Breckland Councillors. Plans for a straw-powered plant at Snetterton have also been submitted by Iceni Energy Ltd, who say that the scheme will provide enough power for more than 60,000 homes.

In response to the MP's concerns, Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: 'The government will not allow the growth of bio-energy to compromise food security. Crops for energy can be grown in ways that don't compete with food, for example using marginal land. We want our farmers to share the economic opportunities offered by bioenergy as well as realising the benefits of clean secure energy for the country.'

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