Site location & environment
Q1. Why do you want to build at Eye Airfield?
Eye Airfield has three key advantages compared to alternative sites in the region:
Q2. What steps are you taking to preserve the rural nature of the local area?
- Close proximity to the national gas and electricity transmission networks
- Location in National Grid’s strategic area for new electricity generation (south of The Wash)
- It has been designed by Mid Suffolk District Council as an area suitable for development into an energy park.
We are conscious of Eye’s cultural heritage and the rural environment of the area and every effort is being made to minimise the impact of Progress Power Station on the local environment, both during its construction and operation. Its design and the steps to mitigate its impacts, such as screening and landscaping, formed a major part of the consultation and planning process. We have chosen to reduce the number of exhaust gas flue stacks from five to one, and we will underground the electrical connection so the project’s visual impact is reduced.
Q3. Where will the gas pipeline and electricity connections be routed?
The proposed location and layout of the electrical connection compound is on land west off the A140 going north, north of the village of Yaxley and close to the existing high-voltage transmission lines.
Further information is available in the 2013 Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR) or PEIR Non-Technical Summary (NTS) found in Key Documents
Q4. Does Progress Power own the airfield site?
Progress Power has a land option agreement with the owner of the area of land.
Q5. There was a previous plan to build a gas-fired station on Eye Airfield. Is Progress connected to that and why was the plan not taken forward?
Progress Power Station is a fresh project and – subject to a Capacity Market contract – one that will be taken forward now that it has planning permission.
Q6. What is the footprint of the power station? Will it be noisy? What height will the stack be?
The power station site covers an area of approximately 10ha and is located within the Eye Airfield business and industrial estates; however, the footprint of the power station itself would be smaller than the full site.
There will be one stack (chimney) at the power station, up to 35 metres in height. The noise produced during the power station’s operation will be strictly limited by both the Development Consent Order issued by the Secretary of State and limits set by the Environment Agency as part of an operational Environmental Permit.
Q7. Will there be an increase in traffic?
There will be HGV traffic during the construction phase but it would be routed to minimise congestion, noise and dirt away from Eye, Mellis and Yaxley, and other places. Once operational, there will be a negligible increase in traffic movements. Eye Airfield already has 55 companies operating on it.
Q8. Is it going to smell?
The combustion of natural gas in a power station does not produce any noticeable odour.
Q9. Will there be any emissions?
A plume consisting mainly of water vapour may be visible from the stack of the power station but only under certain atmospheric conditions (cold and dry with high pressure); this is not 'smoke'. The emissions from the stack will be strictly limited by the Environment Agency as part of an operational Environmental Permit, and will not cause harm to people or the environment.
Q1. Why do we need new gas-fired power stations?
A1. Gas-fired power generation is affordable, reliable and flexible. New gas power projects are acknowledged by the Government as being essential to a lower-carbon economy, as an alternative to coal, and the construction and operation of rapid-response Open Cycle Gas Turbine (OCGT) plants by Drax Group are part of a strategy to support an electricity system that has an increasing amount of less flexible, low carbon and renewable energy technologies. Many ageing coal, gas and nuclear power stations are closing down and new thermal power generation capacity is needed to help the country retain its energy security.
Gas peaking plants such as Progress Power are designed specifically to provide essential back-up power generation to intermittent renewable technologies such as wind turbines and solar farms.
New gas generation is part of a transition from more polluting fossil fuels of the past such as diesel, oil and coal and to a low carbon economy driven by renewables, storage, demand side response and other low carbon technologies.
Q2. How often will the power station operate?
We plan to use Progress Power to plug the gaps that intermittency creates – essentially flicking the switch on and off at very short notice – from cold to full power in just 30 minutes. We anticipate it would run up to a maximum of 1,500 hours year. This would only be at times when the electricity system is under stress.
Through supporting more intermittent renewables, Progress Power Station will also help to enable more coal-fired power stations off the system.
Q3. How safe are gas power stations?
Gas-fired power stations in this country have an excellent safety record, and we do not consider there to be any issues of concern with our site and the neighbouring energy facilities. Drax Power Station, Progress Power owner’s existing power plant has a better-than-average safety record among other coal, gas and biomass power stations.
Q1. What will the substation look like?
A1. We are still in discussions with National Grid over the design of the substation. We are committed to being transparent on this point and therefore did not want to show designs that are not final. We recognise how important the substation is for local people and will share the agreed design as soon as practically possible.
Q2. How high will the substation be? What is the strategy for screening it?
This will depend on the final design of the substation, which has still yet to be agreed. We will commit to providing this detail to the community at a later date.
Q3. When will work start on the substation? How long will it last?
We are still in talks with National Grid over the substation design, which will determine the construction timetable. We anticipate construction of the substation and associated work would take up to two years. Ultimately it will be National Grid’s decision as to when construction starts. However, we will ensure that the final timescales are shared with the local community as the project progresses and we establish a Construction Liaison Group.
Opportunities for local businesses
Q1. When will construction activity ramp up and how long will it take?
Construction activity is linked to securing a Capacity Market contract for the project, which can happen no earlier than Q1 2018. If we did secure a contract, we would expect construction to commence in the following summer, lasting approximately two years.
Q2. What steps will you be taking to make sure all companies are made aware of the opportunities to get involved in the project?
A number of companies have already come forward when the project was in the planning stage. They are on our supplier database and we will ensure they are notified as the project progress. We also intend to host a meet the buyer Day with our main contractors on the build of the project. The day will take place in a suitable local venue and provide all interested suppliers with information on what work packages will be put out to tender and how they can get involved.
Q1. Are you making a community fund available?
Yes, we will be making a Community Benefit Fund available to the local community to support projects in the area. Drax is committed to being a responsible business in the communities in which it operates. We are in on-going discussions with local authorities as to how this fund could be best delivered to ensure it is transparent and that local people ultimately have the say over how the fund is used. We will be providing further details on the fund in due course.