Britain's first major electricity plant to be fuelled by grass has been given the go-ahead.
The £6.5 million bio-energy power station in Staffordshire will be run on elephant grass, cultivated by a large farming co-operative.
It will be capable of supplying 2,000 homes with electricity.
About 170 local farmers are now diversifying into growing the energy crop to feed the two megawatt steam-turbine generator at the Raleigh Hall Industrial Estate, in Eccleshall. Regional development agency Advantage West Midlands has approved a £935,000 grant to developers Eccleshall Biomass Ltd towards the cost of the plant's construction which will begin later this year.
The firm's director Amanda Gray confirmed that funding and planning permission were in place.
Ms Gray added: "Energy crops offer a genuinely sustainable and environment-friendly alternative source of business to farmers as well as helping to meet our obligations in reducing carbon emissions."
An AWM spokesman said agricultural activities accounted for nearly 75 per cent of land use in the region and said the plant would play a vital role in regenerating the rural areas. The plant will operate for 8,000 hours a year on a 24-hour basis and save one tonne per hour of carbon dioxide.