EU ruling leaves plan for £200m A140 power station in limbo
PUBLISHED: 16:53 14 January 2019 | UPDATED: 19:29 15 January 2019
Plans to build a £200m gas-fired power station on the A140 close to the Norfolk-Suffolk border have been put on hold following an EU court ruling.
Progress Power’s proposals to build the 299 megawatt power station on part of the former Second World War airfield near Eye, were approved by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in 2016.
Fuelled by natural gas, the plant is designed to provide short notice power as a back-up for intermittent renewable electricity generation to avoid National Grid shortages.
It was envisaged that once the company behind the project, now owned by British power giants Drax, secured a contract to supply electricity, construction of the plant would start in 2018 with commercial operation scheduled for 2020/21.
But while the company remains committed to the Eye project and is continuing the planning process, the scheme is now on hold following a ruling by the EU’s General Court.
In November the court ruled that Britain must halt its so-called power capacity auctions pending a further investigation by European Union regulators. The UK government said the ruling imposes a “standstill period”, which prevents it from holding electricity capacity auctions until the scheme can be approved again.
Drax spokesman Matt Willey said the company was confident the delay would be short-lived and would not prevent the Eye scheme from going ahead.
He said: “We are still pushing on doing all the preliminary work. We will need to get a capacity market contract through the auction process but right now that is suspended because of this EU ruling. However we are very confident that they will be reinstated.
“This is important part of the energy infrastructure and needed because as a country there is more and more intermittent generation through wind and solar.
“If you don’t have capacity payments you are going to have to build these powers stations without any support, so in effect all that happens is the price of electricity goes up.”
When built, the Eye station with a single turbine would produce enough to supply 400,000 homes. It will connect into the National Grid via underground cable and a new electricity sub-station that will be built near the A140 between the villages of Yaxley and Mellis.
Construction of the station would provide 150 jobs during construction and up to 15 full-time jobs when operational.
Drax also plans a £300,000 community benefit fund to support local projects and is in discussions with Suffolk County Council and Mid Suffolk District Council over how the fund would be administered and which projects to support.
Local county councillor Guy McGregor said: “The concept of stand-by electricity generating facilities is still needed and if they get a contract going forward they will press the start button and we will become more involved in making sure we get the community benefits for the surrounding parishes.”