Huge glasshouse planned for Godmanchester would be world first

The site of the proposed giant glasshouse between the sewage works and the A14 at Godmanchester

The site of the proposed giant glasshouse between the sewage works and the A14 at Godmanchester - Credit: Archant

A giant commercial glasshouse planned for Godmanchester would be a world first by using surplus heat from a nearby sewage works to grow supermarket produce.

The glasshouse would occupy nearly 20 acres - equivalent to 11 football pitches - on the site of just under 38 acres, between the Cow Lane sewage works and the A14, if the scheme is given the go-ahead by Huntingdonshire District Council.

The scheme, by Low Carbon Farming 3 Ltd, would include a packing area and facilities for about 135 staff, 120 of whom would work in the glasshouse, with the site operating from 6am-6pm on weekdays and some weekends.

A world-beating approach to glasshouse heating would see low-grade heat collected from waste water at the nearby sewage works, using ground source heat pumps, which would also help to eliminate carbon emissions.

The scheme has just gone before the district council for consideration.

Andy Allen, a director at Oasthouse Ventures, said: “The proposed glasshouse is an exciting and significant investment in the future of Huntingdon, Godmanchester and the surrounding area.

“The proposed location was carefully chosen by our team and is sandwiched between the A14, an old landfill and a sewage works. The glasshouse will house state-of-the-art technology to grow produce such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers for the supermarkets, and will be a major new employer with more than 100 permanent jobs being created.”

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Mr Allen said: “Furthermore, we aim for this to be the first location in the world where heat is captured from the adjacent sewage treatment works and used to heat the glasshouse. Roughly 20 per cent of the cucumbers and 24 per cent of the tomatoes consumed in the UK are actually grown here, and therefore, with Brexit, now is the chance to start to shift that balance and grow more at home. I very much look forward to seeing the glasshouse becoming a well known and respected part of the community.”

Planning documents submitted on behalf of Low Carbon Farming, said: “Large scale developments of this type make a major contribution towards the production of home grown food, national food security and at the same time significantly reduces associated carbon dioxide levels and food miles.

“The socio-economic benefits can also be substantial - the proposed facility is expected to create 135 additional full-time jobs once operational and where glasshouses are located they are seen to significantly enhance the local economy.”

It said: “This development represents an excellent opportunity for Huntingdonshire District Council to contribute a reduction in our carbon emissions by 26 per cent by 2020.”