Biogas plant rejected after long-running dispute

time:2023-06-01 10:21:16 source:CBS News

Retrospective plans for a biogas power plant that was branded an "abomination on the countryside" have been rejected.

South Norfolk councillors unanimously voted to refuse the latest proposals for the anaerobic digester in Bressingham, near Diss.

The plant is already built but the company was accused of making alterations that it did not have permission for.

Deal Farm Biogas said it was trying to act on the climate emergency.

"It is a complete abomination on the countryside and I don't know how the people who live nearby can put up with it," said Conservative Graham Minshull, speaking at the South Norfolk Council development management committee on Wednesday.

"I will certainly be hoping that we can get it taken down as soon as possible and restored to what it should be."

Deal Farm Biogas's first planning application for the site was granted in 2013.

Development started in 2018, but in 2021 council officers ordered for the company to stop construction over claims that its three 5,000 sq m (53,800 sq ft) lagoons did not fit with the original plans.

The site also consists of a storage building and containment area.

The company submitted its latest plan in June this year, claiming it could capture nearly 5,000 tonnes of CO2 - equating to the removal of 9.5m road car miles every year.

It agreed to halve the amount of feedstock processed at the plant, which it said was from local farms, to 23,950 tonnes.

The plant would use organic waste and crops to create biomethane, which the company claimed would provide energy to power 3,250 homes.

The council has received 114 objection letters over the plans, as reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, including from Norfolk Conservative MPs Richard Bacon and Liz Truss.

Sue Butler, who said her parents closed their B&B nearby because of disruption during construction, said the dispute was "not over by any stretch of the imagination".

"They could actually decide to appeal [the decision and] that could take months if not years," she said.

"We then have the issue of demolition and that in itself can take another few years.

"It is merely a battle that's won, but not the war."

Deal Farm Biogas, a project by the company Biowatt, said domestic renewable energy production was vital in the face of inflation, the cost of living crisis and the war in Ukraine.

A spokesman added: "The time to act on climate change is now and a project like this will ensure that South Norfolk Council is at the forefront of that action."

The council said it would be "looking to serve an enforcement notice to regularise the unauthorised development".

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