A detailed survey of local opinion of a proposed 21.5 MWe bioenergy power plant in Devon, England, has revealed a high level of public opposition and a distrust of the relevant authorities, particularly the Regional Development Agency. Local people view the project as unreasonably large in scale and expect a significant deterioration in their quality of life if it is constructed. They doubt that farmers in the region can be contracted to grow sufficient miscanthus grass as fuel and suspect that the real motivation for the plant is as a regional waste management facility. Local people object strongly to the late stage at which the project became public knowledge and the presentation of a fait accompli. The paper documents the main themes evident in focus groups and interviews with local people and stakeholders. The implications for bioenergy planning and policy are also discussed. It is recommended that large bioenergy power plant are sited away from residential areas and sensitive landscapes, and that the concerns of UK government advisors regarding policy support for advanced bioenergy plant for electricity generation be taken more seriously by the UK Department for Trade and Industry. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.