Oasthouse Ventures Limited, in collaboration with Wren Renewables and the Indaver Integrated Waste Management Facility, has announced the development of a substantial greenhouse enterprise, the 'Rivenhall Greenhouse', situated on land previously used for quarrying near Braintree in Essex.
The innovative project will utilise residual heat, carbon dioxide, and on-site electricity generation to foster the growth of vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.
Drawing on the expertise gained from the Low Carbon Farming project in Bury St Edmunds and Norwich, which repurposes heat from sewage treatment works, the Rivenhall Greenhouse aims to significantly contribute to the UK's fresh produce market, particularly tomatoes, thereby reducing the nation's import dependency. The initiative promises to bolster food security and sustainability.
The venture is poised to generate considerable economic benefits, including the creation of 420 full-time and 80 part-time positions, and an injection of approximately £300 million into the local economy over two decades, courtesy of full-time wages.
Additionally, the construction phase is expected to contribute around £4.14 million to the local hospitality industry.
A public consultation later this month will shed more light on the project, which, once operational, is projected to yield about 28,000 tonnes of vine tomatoes annually, accounting for 7.1% of the UK's tomato imports. The UK's consumption of tomatoes stands at roughly 500,000 tonnes per year, with imports making up about 400,000 tonnes.
The Rivenhall Greenhouse is also seen as a strategic response to supply chain vulnerabilities, particularly those arising from climate change impacts on traditional tomato sources like Southern Spain and Morocco, and the sustainability concerns of Dutch greenhouse gas reliance.
The facility will feature grow lights to enable year-round production and blackout blinds to prevent light pollution, while employing a closed-loop hydroponic system to ensure water conservation.