PREL Greenhouse – Pilot Scheme Planned

08:08 Monday 26th September 2011
Peterborough Brealfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Plans to build one of the country’s largest greenhouses in Peterborough creating 1500 jobs – the proposals come from Peterborough Renewable Energy Limited. Chris Williams is the Managing Director. (TAPE)
CHRIS WILLIAMS: First of all there’s a pilot, and what we’re looking to do is we’ve been approached by the growers, who themselves have been approached by supermarkets and customers, who want sustainable organic food. To help that they need carbon dioxide, and what better way to do carbon dioxide than to take it from a source that would be putting it into the atmosphere. So they’re looking at power stations. They also like the idea that we produce organic fertiliser from our food waste process. And combining the two. So we’re starting with a pilot in Peterborough, about 3 hectares of tomatoes and other crops that can grow sustainably and have the market in the UK, so they’re cutting out food miles, they’re cutting out use of heating from external sources. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: That’s Chris Williams the Managing Director of Peterborough Renewable Energy Limited announcing the plans. Sam Dalton is the councillor and Cabinet Member for Environment Capital. Morning Sam.
SAMANTHA DALTON: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: These are very very exciting plans aren’t they?
SAMANTHA DALTON: They are. I’m really excited about them. In terms of going towards the Environmental Capital I think it’s excellent. Local food, produced in a sustainable way is excellent and would hopefully see waste products such as water heat and carbon dioxide go straight into a greenhouse, where the plants need them, rather than the atmosphere. So yes, sounds very exciting.
PAUL STAINTON: Obviously we musn’t get ahead of ourselves. We haven’t got the energy to waste plant (ed: waste to energy) built yet. But building work starts fairly shortly on that, and once we’ve got the pilot of this underway, there’s a potential for this. And it could create a lot of jobs.
SAMANTHA DALTON: Yes, which is great for local people. And it’s a different type of job to what we’re used to in this city as well. So hopefully it would give people a different skill as well. So local jobs for local people. Can’t complain at that.
PAUL STAINTON: No. Exactly. But nevertheless it is going to be quite a big site potentially, a hundred hectares, see it from space. Will that have an effect on the environment do you think?
SAMANTHA DALTON: It depends’s what’s over at Fengate. Obviously they’d have to go through different biodiversity studies and check that we’re not going to be upsetting anything over there. But I don’t know if you’re aware, I used to work for British Sugar, and they have exactly the same setup over in Wissington, where we’ve got .. they’ve got one of the largest greenhouses in Europe I believe. And they use exactly the same process. The waste and heat that comes out of producing the sugar beet into sugar goes straight into growing local tomatoes. So I’m guessing it’s exactly the same type of process. And it works very well over there.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. It’s the sort of thing that could only help our charge towards being the Home of Envrionment Capital, isn’t it?
SAMANTHA DALTON: Yes absolutely. I think so. It ticks two boxes in conserving natural resources, and growing our environmental business sector, so absolutely. Yes.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. And Nick Sandford is with us as well from the Liberal Democrats. Morning Nick.
NICK SANDFORD: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you welcome this potential development?
NICK SANDFORD: Well I think maybe I’m not as enthusiastic as Sam. But I do generally support it. When the proposals for the PREL facility were being put forward there was lots of argument about it’s going to churn out lots of CO2.
PAUL STAINTON: This is the energy to waste (ed: waste to energy)
NICK SANDFORD: Yes the energy to waste facility. But I think given the fact that that plant is going to happen, I think it’s really important that as much of the CO2 and as much of the heat that it produces is put towards some environmentally sustainable purpose. I think it’s positive in that respect. And of course also as Sam was mentioning, it’s going to create a significant amount of employment.
PAUL STAINTON: It’s going to be massive. I’m just looking at the pictures on the front of the Evening Telegraph this morning. I think they’ve taken a picture from one of these places in Holland. 100 hectares! Massive.
NICK SANDFORD: Yes. Instinctively I would much rather that our food was produced in a smaller scale way. I’m slightly suspicious about these gigantic industrialised plants.
PAUL STAINTON: But why do you say that?
NICK SANDFORD: Well I think if you’re talking about environmental sustainability, it’s important that we should be supporting small agricultural producers.
PAUL STAINTON: You think this might have an effect on the small producers then?
NICK SANDFORD: Well it could do. I think I would need to see more information on that, what the demand for these products actually is. But I think in terms of given the fact that we’re going to produce all this CO2 and all this heat, then actually using it fairly close to the plant is quite an environmentally sustainable thing.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. And market vegetables all year round, locally grown, what more could you ask for?
NICK SANDFORD: That’s obviously quite important. It’s far better if we can grow vegetables, fruit and vegetables, close to where they’re consumed, rather than importing them from Australia or South Africa, places like that.
PAUL STAINTON: Nick, thank you for that. Nick Sandford from the Liberal Democrats. Before that you heard from Sam Dalton, Cabinet Member for Environment Capital.