UEA plans could slash emissions

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Carbon emissions at the UEA will be slashed by 60pc after planners backed a combined biomass car park scheme. Bosses at the university have bolted on the biomass plant to a previous bid to increase parking numbers from 970 to 1740 spaces to cope with the increase in student numbers.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Carbon emissions at the UEA will be slashed by 60pc after planners backed a combined biomass car park scheme.

Bosses at the university have bolted on the biomass plant to a previous bid to increase parking numbers from 970 to 1740 spaces to cope with the increase in student numbers.

The UEA had previously secured planning permission for a new decked car park in 2004 but the latest application would increase that to 1775 spaces as well see the construction of a combined heat and power plant fuelled by wood chippings with an 11m high exhaust flu to the north-east of the campus next to Cow Drive.

Supporters, which include staff from the UEA's carbon reduction initiative (Cred), believe the proposal will rationalise the existing parking across the campus while offering the chance to promote a significant shift to renewable energy sources.

The plant would be built in four phases and there is also the opportunity to carry out research into electric car use and refuelling on site.

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But critics have accused the UEA of 'greenwash' by using the biomass plant as an excuse to build a bigger car park.

Green councillor Rupert Read, who is also a UEA lecturer, said there had been inadequate consultation about the scheme and questioned the timing of the application during the summer holidays when most students were away.

“The university ought to be ashamed of itself in the way it has systematically misled everyone - it should be applying for less car parking spaces not more,” he said. “It would be far more appropriate to invest in a serious travel plan to promote better buses and bike use.”

Keith Chappell, who lives on Bluebell Road, said he was concerned about the impact of noise, emissions and delivery lorries in a residential area.

“HGVs are going to have to drive a residential street with a 20mph limit and speed bumps. If it was a quarry you wouldn't build it there,” he said.

Joseph Saunders, the university's estate development director, said the scheme offered the chance for an additional 30pc cut in carbon emissions.

“The opportunity is within our grasp for a 60pc reduction,” he said. “This will exceed international and UK targets by 40 years.

“I would suggest this is a chance to make history,” he added. “There are research spin offs that the university would like to pursue.”

Planners gave the green light to the scheme, but said lorries should only enter the site via the B1108 Earlham Road. Approval was also conditional on positive feedback from the Environment Agency, which had previously raised concerns, and a commitment not to treat domestic waste at the plant.

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