22 September 2000
Suffolk biopower boost for growers

By David Green

THE go-ahead for Britains second wood-burning power station has opened the door to thousands of acres of farmland planted with quick-growing willow.

Construction work should start early next year on a 10 million plant to be built at Eye Airfield in Suffolk after Ambient Energy was granted planning permission.

The company needs 1820ha (4500 acres) of willow trees to feed the new plant and hopes to establish 280ha (700 acres) next spring.

And extra 405ha/year (1000 acres) will be planted until the target is achieved.

The initial shortfall in coppice fuel supplies when the power station begins operation in 2002 will be made up by forestry waste, said the company.

Farmers who have already expressed an interest in growing willow trees, which will be harvested for their timber on a three- to five-year rotation.

They were given information about ground preparation and weed control.

Robert Rippengal of the Anglia Biomass Supply Group said 1000/ha was available under the European funding to establish the crop on set-aside land.