Massive greenhouse will create 1,500 jobs

This massive greenhouse in Holland is similar to the type that PREL wants to build on a site off Storey's Bar Road, in the Fengate area of Peterborough. Picture supplied
This massive greenhouse in Holland is similar to the type that PREL wants to build on a site off Storey's Bar Road, in the Fengate area of Peterborough. Picture supplied
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UP to 1,500 jobs could be created if plans to build the UK’s biggest greenhouse in Peterborough are given the green light.

Peterborough Renewable Energy Limited (PREL) is proposing to build the 100-hectare, seven metre-high greenhouse in Storey’s Bar Road, Fengate, which will use heat and gases produced by the firm’s planned energy park next door.

The £170 million giant structure, which PREL bosses claim will be visible from space, will be used to grow and farm food, which could include everything from tomatoes to fish.

There will also be a smaller, £5 million research and development facility covering around three hectares built alongside it.

If it gets the go-ahead next year, it would be an incredible employment boost to the city, with between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs created.

John Dickie, PREL’s director of planning and development, said: “We are still in discussions with a Dutch firm about the possibility of a joint venture – we have visited similar projects in Holland and have been very impressed.

“We are looking at growing a number of things in the greenhouse.

“One of the places we visited in Holland had fish on a low level and tomatoes on a high level, so there are a number of options.

“It is appealing to the Dutch as it will reduce the cost of transporting food to this country.

“Similar buildings in Holland create between 10 and 15 jobs per hectare, which is what we are looking at. We are still in discussions with landowners, but we hope to have a planning application for the research and development house this year and a planning application for the main one at this time next year.

“When our energy park is up and running the greenhouses will use heat and carbon dioxide generated from the plant.

“The plant will create a lot of both and we wanted to make the best use possible of them.”

Mr Dickie said that similar-sized greenhouses in Holland produce up to 600 tonnes of tomatoes a year.

The proposals were today welcomed by Peterborough City Council’s cabinet member for environment capital Samantha Dalton. She said: “The more food we can buy that is locally grown, the better for our carbon footprint.

“It would support the city’s ‘Love Local’ campaign and sounds like it would open up the opportunity for local green jobs.

“It is important to make the most of waste products.

“The idea is similar to that of British Sugar who use waste heat and water from producing sugar to grow tomatoes.

“This sounds like a great way of reusing a waste product to the city’s advantage.

“Of course I look forward to seeing the plans in the future should a formal planning application be made.”

Energy park to cost £600m

CONSTRUCTION on PREL’s Waste to Energy plant was scheduled to begin last year and cost £250 million.

However, work is now set to begin in December or January and cost up to £600 million.

It is expected work will last for four years, although some parts of the state-of-the-art plant could be up and running sooner.

Mr Dickie said: “Since we were granted planning permission we have been looking into other technologies, which along with the economic climate has raised the cost and lengthened the timescale.”

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