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Eye airfield's gas power plant development given consent to proceed




Plans to construct a gas-fuelled power plant on the site of a former Second World War airfield have been resurrected, five years after being shelved.

Drax Group initially received planning consent to build Progress Power Plant at Eye airfield industrial estate back in July 2015, but the project was halted after it failed to secure a contract in the government’s capacity market auction for future power generation later that year.

During the latest capacity market auction earlier this month, however, the project was one of three 299MW output Open Cycle Gas Turbine plants led by Drax Group to secure a 15-year agreement with the government.

Plans to construct a gas-fuelled power plant on the site of a former Second World War airfield have been resurrected, five years after being shelved
Plans to construct a gas-fuelled power plant on the site of a former Second World War airfield have been resurrected, five years after being shelved

Last week, Green Party councillor Dan Pratt made the following comments on the project: “The Green Party view is that the Eye proposal is now obsolete. Given shrinking costs of both renewable generation and storage of power, a gas fired intermittent power station in 2021 is environmentally and economically unsustainable.

“We would like to see the scheme formally scrapped.”

Around 40 per cent of energy in the UK is sourced from gas, with wind, solar and other renewables making up around 35 per cent.

Nuclear sources comprise close to 20 per cent of our energy nationally. There are three next-generation pressurised water reactor nuclear power plants currently being planned or developed in the UK.

Hinkley Point C (3,200MW output) in Somerset is expected to open in 2025, Bradwell B (2,200MW) is being planned in Essex and Sizewell C (3,200MW) being planned in Suffolk.

The plant, 1km north of Eye, is scheduled to begin providing energy in October 2024 once the development and its associated infrastructure have been connected to the grid via 1.6km of cable fed to the electrical connection compound.

With the previous planning consent having expired last year, Drax Group submitted an amendment in May of last year which asked for an extension - with approval granted by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in July and extending the consent to August
2021.

According to the applicant, Progress Power Plant will operate for just 1,500 hours per year (around 17 per cent of the time) and only during peak energy demand hours or at time when renewable energy sources are not producing optimal output due to a lack of wind or sun.

Drax Group was approached for comment.

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