Farmer is con­fi­dent of suc­cess in long-run­ning en­ergy plant bat­tle


THE FARMER be­hind plans for one of the big­gest anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion plants in the UK said he is “not both­ered” if it is not ap­proved this week – be­cause he is con­vinced it will get the go-ahead at ap­peal.

John Bird is seek­ing planning per­mis­sion from East Rid­ing Coun­cil to­mor­row for a con­tro­ver­sial 5.45MW waste-to-en­ergy plant close to the vil­lages of Leven, Catwick and Long Ris­ton in East York­shire.

The farmer and busi­ness­man said he would be seek­ing the costs of the ap­peal from the coun­cil – and that could cost the tax­payer be­tween £100,000 and £150,000.

The pro­pos­als for the plant, which will run on chicken ma­nure and straw, were re­jected ear­lier this year by the coun­cil’s planning com­mit­tee due to detri­men­tal im­pact on vis­ual amenity.

Six par­ish coun­cils and more than 300 res­i­dents are ob­ject­ing to the lat­est ap­pli­ca­tion for the plant, which will con­vert 40,000 tonnes of waste into a methaner­ich bio­gas which will be in­jected into the Na­tional Grid, pro­vid­ing “green en­ergy” for more than 12,000 homes.

Of­fi­cers are rec­om­mend­ing ap­proval, with con­di­tions.

Con­cerns have been raised about the smell from the de­liv­ery and stor­age of the feed­stock, as well as the di­ges­tate by-prod­uct, which will be stored in la­goons, and the noise gen­er­ated from the 24/7 op­er­a­tion.

Per­mis­sion was granted in 2013 for a much smaller 500KW plant.

Mr Bird told plans for other anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion plants had won at ap­peal “be­cause it is part of Gov­ern­ment pol­icy go­ing for­ward.”

He said: “I am not both­ered whether it goes through or not. I am in the ap­peal process any way. If we don’t get it through on Thurs­day I know for a fact we will get it through at ap­peal.”

The plant has been de­signed to be a sealed sys­tem and Mr Bird said: “If it smells we are los­ing money.”

He claimed there had been no com­plaints from neigh­bours of other anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion plants in East York­shire, adding: “Peo­ple don’t want nu­clear, frack­ing, they don’t want coal – but we have to get power some­where. If they don’t want wind tur­bines do they ex­pect us to im­port all our power from abroad like we do now? We have to be­cause we are not pro­duc­ing enough en­ergy our­selves.”

How­ever, chair­man of cam­paign group Com­mu­ni­ties Against Digester David Gil­ly­onPow­ell said the bat­tle was “not over”.

At least 50 pro­tes­tors are ex­pected to turn up to demon­strate out­side the meet­ing at County Hall, Bev­er­ley.

Mr Gil­lyon-Pow­ell said res­i­dents’ big­gest con­cern was odour, as well as the im­pact of 50 ex­tra ve­hi­cles a day ac­cess­ing the site from Leven by­pass.

He said: “Com­mu­ni­ties Against Digester and the res­i­dents of the vil­lages sur­round­ing this abom­i­na­tion will con­tinue to fight. No one has ever de­signed an anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion plant to be smelly. They are de­signed to be non­s­melly, but there’s a good num­ber of doc­u­mented in­stances around the coun­try where they do smell.”

Ac­cord­ing to trade as­so­ci­a­tion ADBA, there are al­most 600 plants in the UK, heat­ing 1m homes. Anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion played an im­por­tant role in “sus­tain­able” farm­ing, re­duc­ing emis­sions and re­cy­cling farm waste. FI­LEY:

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