Take a look inside the £173m Snetterton Renewable Energy Plant which supplies 82,000 homes with electricity
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A biomass energy plant which has brought permanent jobs and millions of pounds to the local economy has been officially opened.
The £173m Snetterton Renewable Energy Plant, situated just off the A11, generates 44MWh of electricity every hour - enough to supply 82,000 homes - through the burning of straw and woodchips.
During its two-year construction period, 350 people were employed - many of which were through local contractors - and there was an estimated spend of £25m in the region.
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There are now 31 permanent jobs at the site which uses 45 suppliers from across Norfolk, north Suffolk, east Cambridgeshire and south Lincolnshire. These deliveries are made using 20 haulage firms from the local area.
It is believed £13m will be pumped into the local agricultural community every year.
Breckland Council chairman Kate Millbank officially opened the plant at a ceremony on Thursday which was attended by representatives from the plant's owners BWSC East Anglia Ltd - a joint venture between Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, and PensionDanmark
Ms Millbank said: 'This important project has provided a real boost to the local economy and created a number of jobs, which is excellent news for local people, while providing a significant amount of green power for the region.
She added: 'The A11 corridor is the gateway between London, Cambridge and Norwich and it is going to be a really important part of the county.'
The plant has been operational since April and construction was completed four weeks ahead of schedule.
Each day 800 tons of straw, or 1,000 bales, are delivered. Bales which are rejected due to high moisture levels are donated to World Horse Welfare, based in Snetterton, or used as animal bedding.
The plant saves more than 300,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.
Christian Grundtvig, director generation services and project development with BWSC, said the plant has so far been working 'above expectations'.
He added: 'It is extremely important to bring down emissions and get away from coal and oil power.
'We have to secure the future for our children.'
Improved power supply to Snetterton Heath
In 2014 Breckland Council told businesses that the Snetterton Renewable Energy Plant would provide electricity to kickstart the Snetterton Heath employment area.
However this has not been the case.
The authority said a condition was put into the plant's planning permission that it would have the future potential to provide an upgraded power supply to the local area.
The council said it 'acted in good faith' believing the condition would assist in bringing about the necessary upgrade. However they said the process for achieving this connection has 'proved far more complex than was originally anticipated'.
A spokesman for the council said a new scheme is being looked at which would involve tapping into the high voltage linkewhich connects the renewable plant to a network distribution point at Diss.
Discussions are taking place.