APPROVED - Pelco’s pellet plant for Ely that will process 150,000 tonnes of wheat and oil seed rape straw a year

New straw pelleting plant for Ely

New straw pelleting plant for Ely - Credit: Archant

A straw pelleting plant near Ely won approval from East Cambs District Council.

Norwich based Pelco say they will start work shortly on the plant and hope to have it ready by November next year.

The company says that over the course of a year the plant, which would be 100m long and have a tower 47m high, would process around 150,000 tonnes of wheat and oil seed rape straw gathered from farms within a 50-mile radius.

Baled straw would be delivered to the site – on land south west of the Potter Group in Queen Adelaide Way- by HGVs before being converted into pellets and transported by rail to renewable energy plants across the region.

Simon Barnard, chief operating officer of Pelco said: “This is only the first of at least five plants to be built by Pelco across the country providing a major new market for farmers’ straw.

“Farmers will be able to benefit from the value of their straw with long term Pelco contracts which are now available from next harvest. “Farmers within a radius of 50 miles from Ely will be the first to be able to engage in this opportunity and should contact Pelco to find out more.”

Baled straw will be delivered to the plant by road from ‘hub’ farms; and then the pellets will be transported onwards by rail to renewable energy plants, such as the proposed combined heat and power plant at Generation Park Norwich.

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The spokesman said: “Straw pellets provide an ideal low carbon biomass fuel with good consistent burning characteristics.

“Pelco is working very closely with the whole farming industry – landowners, farmers, agronomists, contractors and hauliers - to create a sustainable and professional supply chain for straw.”

Mr Barnard said: “We believe we have created realistic contracts that can provide a mutual reward for all parties. We can either take baled straw or swath in the fields. “We have looked to take every aspect into account from effective cleaning down of balers between fields to minimizing field traffic.

“There is finance available for straw barns and we are ensuring that contracts are sustainable even in a bad harvest year. We are not taking barley straw because of its value to the livestock industry.”

Future pelleting plants are planned for Yorkshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and

Hertfordshire, and are likely to come on stream at the rate of one a year.

Straw pellets are produced by a combined process of grinding, pressure and heat. Pelco believe the use of straw pellets as fuel is far cleaner than traditional fossil fuels.