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Blakenham: Giant greenhouse proposal recommended for approval

PUBLISHED: 10:32 16 May 2014

Michael Blakenham, who is proposing to build large greenhouses to use heat from the incinerator.

Michael Blakenham, who is proposing to build large greenhouses to use heat from the incinerator.

Councillors are being recommended to approve proposals for two huge new greenhouses to be built at Great Blakenham.

The greenhouses would produce millions of tomatoes and would create up to 200 jobs – but local residents are concerned about their size and their likely impact on roads in the area.

The £30 million project will be discussed by members of Mid Suffolk Council’s planning committee next week, and officers are recommending the councillors should give them the authority to approve the application providing conditions are met.

The greenhouses would use heat generated by the nearby incinerator burning waste from across Suffolk, and part of Norfolk, which is due to start operating within a few months.

Michael Blakenham of Sterling Suffolk, the company behind the project, said: “As well as enormous environmental benefits, this project provides a significant boost to the local economy with jobs on site as well as spin-off benefits for a variety of local businesses.

“We have funders waiting in the wings to back this project, but we haven’t been able to make progress without planning permission.

“If we get approval there are still hurdles to overcome, but I am confident we can be up and running by the end of next year.”

The greenhouses would cover an area of nearly 50 acres and produce 7,500 tonnes of tomatoes a year.

Currently only one in six tomatoes eaten in the UK is grown here. The rest are imported – bringing with them all the extra transport costs and traffic pollution.

The project has the backing of The Greenery, one of the main distributors buying and selling salad produce throughout the UK and Europe, as well as incinerator operators SITA UK and Suffolk County Council.

The project includes safety improvements to the B1113 and extensive tree planting.

Local residents are currently considering their response to the application, and are expected to make their position clear at next week’s meeting.

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