From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
Thanet Earth is a large industrial agriculture project consortium under construction in the United Kingdom. As of early March 2009, food has been harvested. Located on the Isle of Thanet, in Kent it will be the largest greenhouse complex in the UK, covering 90 hectares, or 220 acres (0.89 km2) of land. It is estimated it will increase UK salad crop (cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes) production by 15%.
The complex has begun producing since October 2008. Cucumbers and peppers will be picked continuously from February to October, tomatoes harvested every day of the week, 52 weeks a year. The UK's largest privately-owned fresh produce supplier, Fresca Group Ltd, has a 50% stake in the trading business that sells all the crops grown at the site, Thanet Earth Marketing Limited. The remaining 50% of Thanet Earth Marketing Limited is owned by three salad growing specialist companies who each own and operate a glasshouse at the site – Kaaij Greenhouses UK, Rainbow Growers and A&A. Planning permission exists for a further 4 greenhouses on the site, making 7 in total.
The complex is powered by combined heat and power systems that create heat, power and carbon dioxide (which is absorbed by the plants) for the greenhouses. Through a partnership with a Virtual power plant they also export their excess power to the grid and automatically add extra power to the grid at times of peak demand.
Although the project has received mainly positive reviews from people living near the site, due to job creation and greater food security, there are minor concerns over the change in local scenery and the loss of traditional farming practices. There are also concerns about the use of hydroponics producing less flavoursome produce.
As the first of its kind in the UK, the Thanet Earth project received minor, but national coverage. The Daily Mail noticeably failed to identify the heating plant as a local power plant foremost, with waste heat being used to warm the greenhouses (combined heat and power)