Planning granted at Discovery Park

Renewable energy company Estover Energy has today announced that planning consent has been granted by Dover District Council for its proposal to develop a £65 million biomass Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in the South East of England.

The specialist company will develop the local scale biomass plant at Discovery Park, one of Europe’s leading science and technology parks, located at Sandwich, Kent, supplying renewable heat and electricity across the 220-acre site and creating significant employment opportunities. The CHP plant will also supply low carbon electricity to the national grid, supporting the UK’s national target to generate 15 per cent of its energy demand from renewable sources by 2020.

The project represents an inward investment of approximately £65 million to the area and will significantly bolster the local economy. Construction is forecast to begin in spring 2014 and approximately 100 jobs will be created during this period. Once operational, a further 20 permanent jobs in positions at the plant and a further 20 jobs in the forestry and transport sector will also be generated.

The new facility will use conventional CHP steam turbine technology - proven to be reliable and clean - to generate 11-15 MW of power and 8-12 MW of heat, which would be enough energy to supply the equivalent of 21,000 homes with electricity. The biomass plant will use locally sourced low-grade wood fuel to generate renewable heat and power for the Park, significantly reducing its energy costs, carbon footprint and reliance on imported fossil fuel. The wood fuel will come solely from local forestry and woodlands, typically within an average distance of 80 miles.

Greg Barker, Minister of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change and MP for Bexhill and Battle said: “Estover’s local-scale biomass CHP plant is an exciting opportunity to make an important contribution to our renewable energy mix.

By sourcing their fuel from the South East the wider benefits of developing a new supply chain are felt locally, helping to stimulate the rural economy and provide a much needed market to support coppice woodlands in south-east England. I congratulate them on this new development.”

Local MP Laura Sandys said: “I am extremely excited about Estover's CHP plant. By reducing energy bills and decarbonising the electricity and heat used at Discovery Park, the project will help existing businesses expand and attract new employment to the area. It is a fantastic contribution to what is fast becoming a centre for renewable energy in East Kent and I am thrilled that Government policies and Local Authority support have helped make this happen.”

Andrew Troup, Development Director, Estover Energy, said: “That our proposal was granted consent is testament to the Council’s commitment to renewables and its support for Discovery Park and the wider community around Sandwich. Our new biomass plant will help meet the energy challenges of the next two decades, it will be a great boost to the local economy and will stimulate long-overdue investment in the South East’s woodlands.”

Trevor Cartner, Chairman, Discovery Park said: “ We are delighted to welcome Estover Energy to Discovery Park. The benefits to us and to the wider region are significant and we are proud that we can now offer our tenants a clean and sustainable source of energy for the future.”

The location for the plant was chosen because of its Enterprise Zone status and extensive existing infrastructure, which the CHP plant can use to supply power to the whole of Discovery Park as it currently stands and as it continues to expand.