Generation Park developers admit serious problems with finding investors for £370m energy plant on edge of Norwich
PUBLISHED: 09:27 01 December 2015 | UPDATED: 16:14 04 November 2019
2011 Grimshaw Architects
Developers behind a controversial £370m energy park on the edge of Norwich have admitted they are facing serious problems in finding investors.
However, the board revealed it is working with an insolvency practitioner to "work out the best arrangement" for existing creditors. It is understood steps are being taken which would avoid liquidation.
In a statement, the developers said: "Norwich Powerhouse LLP regrets to announce that the company has faced difficulties securing investment for Generation Park Norwich. Current uncertainty over national support for green energy has meant Generation Park Norwich has become less attractive to private investors.
"The board of NPH is currently working with an insolvency practitioner to work out the best arrangement for creditors.
"Generation Park Norwich remains an excellent vision for the city that would make Norwich an exemplar of green, renewable energy."
A spokesman said the problems had not been caused by an investor pulling out and there were talks over other possible investment.
Backed by the University of East Anglia, which has put £2.25m into the project, and energy company Eon, which has put in £1.4m, the park is due to include a straw pellet-burning plant.
That would generate electricity for major power users and heat for businesses and houses via a district heating network run by Eon. It is understood Eon is preparing a commercial proposition to ensure the scheme can continue.
An Eon spokesman said: "We believe Generation Park Norwich is a viable renewables project that will add to the region's energy mix, but the current financial difficulties being faced are a sign of the economic uncertainties affecting this market. We remain committed to continue to provide support and assistance where we can to help develop this project."
A UEA spokesman said: "The university is disappointed that the Generation Park Norwich project has been facing funding challenges.
"We hope that Norwich Powerhouse will reach an acceptable arrangement with creditors, and that ongoing discussions with potential investors are productive.
"UEA's financial investment ended more than two years ago after fostering the early stages of development.
"As one of the project's three founding partners, we are supportive of this process and keen to make our own fair contribution to creditors or to any refinancing plan."
Along with the energy plant, the development would include 120 new homes, student accommodation, an education centre, a research base, 11 acres of parkland, plus new cycle routes and walkways.
A new bridge would also be built over the river, connecting the site to the nearby Deal Ground.
Supporters say it would be a shot in the arm for the region's economy and put the city at the forefront of tackling climate change.
But the proposal, with its 90m-tall chimney, has drawn criticism, with concerns over the environmental and visual impact on the surrounding area once the 30-acre development is built.
Campaigners, including from the group Say No To Generation Park have expressed concerns about possible pollution from the plant.
The developers have always said the height of the chimney would mean emissions would be at a very high level, dispersed far away from the city.
Last month Broadland District councillors, who are being consulted on the plan, decided to defer their decision, saying they needed more information on the environmental impact of the plume which will come out of the chimney.
And Norwich City Council, which, along with the Broads Authority, would have to grant planning permission before the scheme could go ahead, has commissioned its own independent expert advice on air quality to help it in determining the planning application.
More than 250 people have objected to the proposal.
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