Council votes down proposed Thetford, UK, biomass plant

By Luke Geiver | January 09, 2012

A proposed 40 MW biomass power plant in Thetford, Norfolk, England, has been struck down by the Norfolk County Council after opposition groups in the community cited concerns over the land required to build and operate the facility.

The plant had been in the planning stages for nearly two years, led by Energy Power Resources Limited, a U.K. biomass power developer that owns and operates five biomass facilities, one of which uses poultry litter to produce 38.5 MW in Thetford.

In September 2011, EPRC submitted several documents reporting on the details of the project, including the schematics, equipment, cost of operation and benefits of the facility. The 11.3 hectare facility would not have been subject to any scientific, landscape or historical designations, according to EPRC, or the loss of any agricultural land classified as the “best and most versatile.” In addition to completing the requested documents for the Norfolk County Council, EPRC also created and operated a website specifically describing the proposed Thetford biomass facility. The website featured a number of information tabs, including a 15-part question-and-answer section that addressed a number of concerns, including “Would the plant create any noise?”  and “Why Thetford?” or “How would construction traffic access the site?”

The facility would’ve provided enough power for roughly 68,500 homes using wood waste and poultry litter sourced from the region. A study conducted by URS Scott Wilson Ltd, a global consulting firm, found that there was adequate material available to meet the projected capacity, and that the facility would result in “…a shift from material being either landfilled or exported for energy recovery to Europe, to being used for energy recovery within the region.” The report also concluded that a change from landfill or export for biomass energy to local biomass energy would represent an improvement in terms of moving from landfill to energy recovery, and moving from international export of material to local use.