Thetford biomass plant plans rejected

Plans to power 68,500 houses by burning waste wood and dried grass have been rejected today.

Fierce opposition had been mounted to the biomass plant proposals, which also involved burning poultry litter and wood chips, off Munford Road, Thetford.

And Norfolk County Council's planning regulatory committee dismissed the application after expressing concerns about the visual impact on nearby sites, including Thetford Forest.

They also had doubts about whether the renewable energy project was environmentally-friendly. In total, 180,000 tonnes of waste wood would have been required every year, with just 20,000 tonnes sourced from Norfolk and Suffolk.

A further 15,000 of wood chips would also have come from the two counties to meet the annual demand of 103,432 tonnes.

Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, London, Kent and the midlands were also earmarked to provide material.

Stuart Wilson, of the Thetford Society, told councillors: 'Such an industrial unit would remove agricultural land and set a precedent for urban development north of the A11.'

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Mike Brindle, county councillor for Thetford West, said he had a 'passionate belief' in the importance of 'humanity learning from the past'.

He said: 'Sadly we often don't. Seventy years ago this nation came within a few weeks of starvation by Hitler's U-Boats. Why was that? It was because we failed to grow enough food to feed ourselves and we could not import enough.

'We have been desperately slow to learn the lesson. But at least the present coalition government is saying we must put greater emphasis on growing our own food. We must not be caught out in a hungry world.

'But this planning proposal says the opposite. It says let's take 20 or more acres of green land away from food growing.'

Croxton resident Doug Stephen said: 'It's the right decision. It may well be the right technology but the wrong location for a whole variety of reasons, not just the impact on Croxton.'

Officials on behalf of the applicant, MEIF Renewable Energy (Holdings) Ltd, had attempted to reassure councillors the project was sustainable and would have a positive impact on the environment.

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