Work on £100m straw-fired power station to begin in summer
WORK on a controversial straw-fired power station will begin in the summer.
Plans for the £100 million Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant, on land off Boston Road, were first announced in 2007.
And after years of consultation with residents, it has now been confirmed that work will be completed by the end of 2013.
The 40MW renewable energy plant will provide electricity for 65,000 homes and provide free heat energy to public buildings in Sleaford, such as a new swimming pool.
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Pollution levels will also be down on traditional power stations, with more than 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide saved each year.
A series of safety improvements to local roads have also been made after the community voiced concerns over traffic congestion caused by delivery vehicles.
A new footpath and cycle way have been constructed in Boston Road in the nearby village of Kirkby-la-Thorpe. And young people will benefit from a £75,000 donation from the facility's owner, Eco2 Ltd, to fund engineering apprenticeships at the plant itself.
Up to 80 jobs will be created for fuel delivery services and the operation of the facility.
Councillor Richard Wright, executive board member for sustainability at North Kesteven District Council, said the new facility would bring a number of benefits to the area.
He said: "The council has worked closely with Eco2 to ensure maximum community benefit from this scheme and it is heartening that progress being made behind the scenes will soon lead to progress being seen on the ground.
"Of greatest value will be the provision of free heat to public buildings in Sleaford. Given all of the work the council has undertaken to reduce energy use and the carbon footprint of its own buildings, to now have access to the generation of clean energy provided through a sustainable source has far reaching community benefits in reduced cost and pollution."
Dr Andrew Toft, director of projects at Eco2, said a newsletter would be created to keep residents updated with the project's progress.
He said: "We look forward to starting work. In the current economic climate it has been a hard time to raise finance.
"The project will bring with it significant benefits and will make a big difference to the local community and economy. We are keen to keep the community informed with progress of the construction phase through further newsletters and updates to our website."
Some members of the local community remain in opposition to the project.
Stephen Bailey, 61, said: "It's an obsolete and inefficient technology being built in the wrong place. It's not a Nimby issue, it's a Sleaford-wide issue. It just seems like a travesty to me."
Richard Starkess, 53, said: "I just don't understand why it's so close to the town. I think it's going to kill the place and cause traffic congestion. No-one will want to live here anymore and it's going to turn into a ghost town."
Eco2 explained all environmental and planning issues had been considered during the application.
Dr Toft said: "The Government acknowledges generating electricity from biomass is critical to meeting its renewable energy targets. The technology is clean, efficient and reliable.
"The transport aspects of the project were thoroughly examined and approved when the plant was granted planning consent; nevertheless Eco2 will be doing all that it can to ensure minimal impact during construction and onwards."