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Wetheringsett: MP Dan Poulter criticises appeal method for biomass plant

PUBLISHED: 06:00 24 March 2014

Dan Poulter MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

Dan Poulter MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

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A Suffolk MP is calling for the decision to hold an appeal in writing on plans for a £100million biomass plant to be reversed.

The comments from Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, come after planning bosses decided to hold the appeal on the Mendlesham Renewable Energy Plant via written representation and not with a public hearing or inquiry.

Mr Poulter said the plans for the straw-burning plant were of “enormous significance” and would “impact adversely” on farmers and businesses. But Eco2, the company behind the plans, has insisted the plant would create hundreds of jobs, pump millions of pounds into the economy and would not disrupt existing farming markets.

Eco2 bosses had asked the Planning Inspectorate to hold the appeal in writing. Mid Suffolk District Council also favoured that method but later changed its minds after meeting with Mr Poulter.

In a letter to the Inspectorate, Mr Poulter, said: “In view of the strength of feeling amongst all sectors of the community both locally and across Suffolk, I strongly recommend that you reconsider your decision to have a written appeal process. I am in no doubt that in this case it is in the public interest for a public hearing to take place.” At this stage the Inspectorate has chosen written representations, but the case inspector can change that decision.

The Inspectorate said public interest is one of the “many considerations” it takes into account when deciding which appeal method to use.

It said that on the “current evidence” a hearing or inquiry are “not suitable” as representations can be dealt with without the need to ask questions.

The plant, which would be built near the A140, has faced criticism since the plans were first announced.

Some of Suffolk’s biggest businesses, including Blythburgh Free Range Pork, Aspall Cyder and pig producer BQP, claim farms could be forced to close if the plant is built.

Eco2 says the plan would save around 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year and provide enough electricity for 65,000 homes. Last July Mid Suffolk voted down the proposals by 16 votes to one. A date for the appeal has not yet been set.

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