Progress Power Station will be a rapid response gas-fired power plant located at the Eye Airfield Industrial Estate in Suffolk. A subsidiary business of Drax Group, Progress Power Station will support intermittent forms of renewable electricity at times where they are not able to meet national electricity demand. It will enter commercial operation in the early-to-mid 2020s, subject to securing a Capacity Market contract.
About Progress Power
Progress Power Station will be located in an area of Eye Airfield, a former World War II United States Air Force base safeguarded by Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC) for development as an energy park. It lies within the administrative boundaries of MSDC and Suffolk County Council (SCC) and is located 1 km north west of the village of Eye, 4 km south of Diss and adjacent to the A140 which links Norwich to Ipswich.
Progress Power Station, a Drax Group development project, will help support Great Britain’s energy security. It will be used during periods of peak electricity demand and when intermittent renewable technologies are unable to produce the power required to keep the country running – for example when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. It will not operate more than 1,500 hours a year and as such, Progress Power Station will help the country to transition to a lower carbon economy. It will have the capacity to generate enough instant electricity to power 150,000 households. All efforts will be made to ensure Progress Power Station has a minimal impact on the environment during its construction and operation.
The Progress Power Station project will comprise:
- A new Open Cycle Gas Turbine (OCGT) power peaking plant, also known as a Simple Cycle Gas Turbine capable of providing up to 299 Megawatts (MW) of electricity. Following consultation with the community in 2014/15 and additional technical work, the plant will incorporate a single gas turbine generator with one exhaust gas flue stack.
- A new electrical connection via an underground cable circuit to export electricity from the power station to the National Grid Electricity Transmission System.
- A new gas insulated electricity substation constructed by National Grid.
- A new gas pipeline connection to bring natural gas to the power station from the Gas National Transmission System in the vicinity of the project site. This element incorporates an above ground installation (AGI) at its southern end and a new access road off Potash Lane.
Planning & Consultation
The views of local residents, businesses and other local interest groups were crucial in shaping the final planning application.
To inform its planning application, Progress Power undertook a two stage consultation process: ‘Non-Statutory Consultation’, which began in May 2013, followed by a period of ‘Statutory Consultation’, which began on 3 October 2013 and closed on 7 November 2013. The consultation plan (known as the Statement of Community Consultation and found it Key Documents) met all legal requirements and was based on a range of advice and guidance.
Following extensive consultation, the project was granted planning permission – known as a Development Consent Order – on 23 July 2015 by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
An environmental impact assessment (EIA) was undertaken and formed a central part of the application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) in accordance with the Planning Act (2008). Please see the Environmental Statement Non-Technical Summary in Key Documents. The full Environmental Statement and supporting documents can be accessed via the Planning Inspectorate’s website.
As part of its commitment to support the communities in which it operates, Drax will provide a Community Benefit Fund to support local projects and initiatives in the vicinity of Progress Power Station. It is intended that the local community will have the final say over how this money is spent and which projects to support. Drax is in ongoing discussions with the local authorities over how this Progress Power Community Benefit Fund can be best delivered in a fair and transparent way and will provide further details in due course.
Working with local businesses
Construction is expected to take approximately 30 months and will provide job opportunities for up to 150 skilled and semi-skilled workers. As part of the construction programme, Drax is committed to working with its lead Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor to ensure that local businesses have every opportunity to tender for relevant work streams they can support the project on. We will hold a ‘meet the buyer’ event in the local area early in the construction programme to provide more details on these opportunities and how suppliers can get involved.
Expressions of interest from local companies wishing to support the project have already been received and if you would like to be kept aware of future developments and be added to our database please contact us.
28 May 2020 - Progress Power non-material change application
26 May 2020 - Progress Power seeks planning consent extension
9 February 2018 - Progress Power to participate in future auction
10 July 2017 - Drax meets community representatives in Eye
9 December 2016 - Progress Power to participate in 2017 auction
6 December 2016 - Drax acquires Progress Power
25 August 2016 - Project Update
8 January 2016 - Project update
2 April 2015 - DCO Examination Phase Closed
16 January 2015 - Progress Power’s Response to Dr Dan Poulter MP
1 May 2014 - Planning Inspectorate accepts Progress Power Development Consent Order Application
7 March 2014 - Progress Power Takes Stock of Local Feedback Towards Project
26 February 2014 - Electrical Connection Plans: Progress Power Meets Local Residents
13 February 2014 - Progress Power Information Update Drop-in Sessions
6 February 2014 - Progress Power Outlines Plans to Connect Power Station to the National Grid
23 January 2014 - Progress Power Meets with Local Parish Councillors
May 2020 - Progress Power Non-Material Change application documents
29 January 2018 – Yaxley Substation – National Grid Design Workshop 1 Presentation
25 January 2018 – Introduction to the Design Workshops – Comments and DraxNGC Responses
24 January 2018 – Table of Progress Power Development Consent Order (DCO) Pre-Commencement Requirements and envisaged submission timetable
15 January 2018 – National Grid Introduction to the Design Workshops
October 2017 – Progress Power Station – Community Update Meeting Notes
October 2017 – Progress Power Station – Community Update Presentation
July 2017 – Meet the team presentation
July 2017 – Meet the team briefing session
July 2017 – Archaeological works
August 2016 – PPL Regulation 6 Notice
August 2016 – PPL NMC Application
August 2016 – PPL Draft Amendment Order
July 2015 – DCO Decision Letter and Statement of Reasons
July 2015 – Notice of the Decision made by the Secretary of State
July 2015 – Progress Power (Gas Fired Power Station) Order 2015 as made by the Secretary of State
June 2015 – Letter from Progress Power to Dr Dan Poulter MP – 19th June 2015
April 2015 – Examining Authority’s Report of Findings and Conclusions for the Progress Power Station
December 2014 - PPL 2.7 Works Plans GIS Variant
December 2014 - PPL 2.6 Land Plans GIS Variant
December 2014 - PPL Book of Reference
December 2014 - PPL Construction Environmental Management Plan
December 2014 - PPL Construction Traffic Management Plan
December 2014 – PPL Design Principles Statement
December 2014 – PPL Flood Risk Assessment GIS Variant
December 2014 – PPL Important Hedgerow Plan
December 2014 – PPL Landscape Mitigation Strategy
December 2014 – PPL Outline Landscaping Plans
December 2014 – PPL Outline Lighting Strategy
December 2014 – PPL Rights of Way, Streets & Access Plan
December 2014 – PPL Stage 2 Written Scheme of Investigation
September 2014 – PPL Ecological Management Strategy
July 2014 – PPL Statement of Reasons
April 2014 – Progress Power Section 56 Notice of Acceptance for Examination
April 2014 – Progress Power News Update
April 2014 – News Update GIS Substation Variant – indicative visual
April 2014 – News Update AIS Substation Variant – indicative visual
April 2014 – Indicative Visuals of proposed Electrical Connection Compound
April 2014 – Indicative Visuals of proposed Power Generation Plant
April 2014 – Viewpoints Map for Indicative Visuals
April 2014 – Environmental Statement Non-Technical Summary
March 2014 - Consultation Report Non-Technical Summary
March 2014 - PPL Travel Plan
February 2014 - Progress Power Information Update February 2014
January 2014 - Progress Power Consultation Update 22 January 2014
October 2013 – Progress Power Leaflet
October 2013 – Preliminary Environmental Information Report Non-Technical Summary
October 2013 – Preliminary Environmental Information Report
October 2013 – Preliminary Environmental Information Report Figures
September 2013 – Statement of community consultation
June 2013 – Essex & Suffolk Water Late Response
June 2013 – Scoping Opinion
June 2013 – Norfolk County Council Late Response
June 2013 – Highways Agency Late Response
May 2013 – Progress Power project environmental impact assessment scoping report
May 2013 – Progress Power Brochure
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Site location & environment
Q1. Why do you want to build at Eye Airfield?
A1. Eye Airfield has three key advantages compared to alternative sites in the region:
- 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
Q2. What steps are you taking to preserve the rural nature of the local area?
A2. 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?
A3. 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?
A4. 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
A5. 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?
A6. 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?
A7. 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?
A8. The combustion of natural gas in a power station does not produce any noticeable odour.
Q9. Will there be any emissions?
A9. 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?
A2. 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 20 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?
A3. 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?
A2. 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?
A3. 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?
A1. Construction activity is linked to securing a Capacity Market contract for the project, which can happen no earlier than winter 2018/19. 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?
A2. 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?
A1. 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.
Q2. With the Development Consent Order granted, how is Drax liaising with the local community?
A2. As part of the permission granted by the Secretary of State, and mindful of the local environment, a commitment was made to consult with local community representatives on the design and layout of both the power station and the sub-station. Over recent months, we (along with National Grid) have held a series of design workshops with local councillors, local landowners and other interested parties. At these workshops, we shared our plans (for example, the sub-station building and its colours, and the landscaping around both sites) and asked for people’s comment. These workshops, discussions with officers from Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC) and Suffolk County Council (SCC), and input from the independent Design Council, have greatly assisted our design work. We will continue to engage with local representatives as we finalise our designs and move forward with the project. We are also working closely with MSDC and SCC to expedite a number of planning matters.