Great Blakenham’s energy-from-waste plant which will burn all of Suffolk’s non-recyclable waste is up and running

The energy-from-waste plant in Great Blakenham

The energy-from-waste plant in Great Blakenham - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s £180million energy-from-waste incinerator has been officially unveiled.

The plant in Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, will burn all waste which cannot be recycled – using the heat made in the process to produce enough electricity for 30,000 homes.

In its first year it is due to save £8million through cutting fees councils pay for using landfill sites.

The company SITA UK will run the site for 25 years on behalf of Suffolk County Council.

Rebecca Hopfensperger, the county council’s cabinet member for localities, environment and waste, said: “The county council, together with the Suffolk Waste Partnership, promised this project would be good for the tax payer, a good environmental solution and deliverable.

“We have met all of these promises. This year alone we are making an £8 million saving for Suffolk. The facility will reduce our carbon emissions, produce enough electricity for 30,000 homes and is on track to achieve the environmental gold standard of BREEAM excellence.

“We have proved the facility is deliverable in Suffolk by opening on time and on budget. The county council has shown that by acting in a business-like manner it can deliver what it promised.”

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Earlier today the plant’s testing phase was successfully completed – with the site first producing electricity in September.

Paul Leighton, plant manager for SITA UK, said: “This facility turns something we don’t want – the waste left after recycling – into something we do – enough electricity for 30,000 homes.

“After nearly three years of construction and comprehensive testing to make sure everything works as it should, we are really proud to have delivered this project on time, on budget and with an excellent health and safety record.

“Our expectations for this site were very high, it wasn’t enough for it to simply fulfil its purpose of putting the county’s waste to good use, we also wanted it to be the best in terms of design, technology and operation, and chose our contractors accordingly. We are therefore equally proud of the awards and commendations we have received.”

The building was designed by Grimshaw, the world-renowned architects of the Eden Project in Cornwall, and has been described by the architectural watchdog, CABE, as setting the standard for future industrial buildings.

It was built by Lagan with the process equipment supplied by CNIM, a leading manufacturer of energy-from-waste plants.

A visitor centre, which will open in the new year for adult and school groups, was designed by DesignMap, the company which helped turn the Cutty Sark into a top visitor attraction.

The site has brought a number of benefits to the community. During construction more than 100 Suffolk firms won contracts, worth around £13.5 million, to supply goods and services to the site. It is estimated a further £1 million a year will continue to be spent in the local economy.

It has created 47 new jobs on site and a further 200 could be created if the proposed greenhouse project, which will use surplus heat from the site to grow tomatoes, goes ahead.

Eleven projects, including Great Blakenham village hall, Sproughton church hall and the 24 Ipswich Scout Group, have received more than £240,000 of funding from the SITA Trust to improve their facilities.The funding is available to groups within a three-mile radius of the site.

The facility has a capacity of 269,000 tonnes of waste a year – and on average it will deal with 5,000 tonnes a week.

Sterling Suffolk is planning to build two commercial greenhouses nearby to take surplus heat from the site. Covering nearly 50 acres, the greenhouses would produce 7,500 tonnes of tomatoes a year, create around 200 jobs and turn Suffolk into one of the top tomato producers in the country.

Planning permission has been granted and it is hoped work will start next year.

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