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: