Campaigners win battle against 'gargantuan' FD Birds anaerobic digestion plant in Leven
VICTORIOUS: Campaigners celebrate after the anaerobic digestion plant was rejected.
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 21 Apr 2017
Controversial plans for a “gargantuan" anaerobic digestion plant have been unanimously rejected by East Riding councillors.
More than 700 people objected to the scheme at Leven, which campaigners claimed would be “a hideous stain on the area".
Dozens of objectors protested outside Beverley's County Hall ahead of the planning committee meeting, which refused the scheme for land off Leven Bypass.
Protesters had claimed the “uncharacteristic large-scale industrial plant", which would convert farm waste into energy, would be the largest anaerobic digester in the country.
Leven resident Mark Gillyon-Powell, of the Communities Against Digester campaign group, told the planning committee: “The visual impact of a massive industrial plant in the heart of the countryside represents a hideous stain on the area.
“These buildings do not look rural, or like farm buildings, they look like the factories and industrial processes that they are."
Mr Gillyon-Powell, who is a parish councillor, rubbished the green credentials of the scheme, proposed by FD Bird & Sons, for land north of Yarrows Aggregates Ltd.
He said: “Despite its gargantuan size – the largest anaerobic digester in the country if it proceeds – you would need 100 of them to address less than one per cent of the country's energy needs.
“And there is zero waste management benefit. You put in straw and poultry manure and you get out wet, rotten straw and poultry manure, in liquid form.
“It doesn't magically disappear. You have what you started with. Add to that the transport pollution importing feed stocks and exporting digestate and most benefit it lost."
The committee heard objections had been lodged against the scheme from across the area, by parish councils at Leven, Catwick, Brandesburton, Tickton and Riston.
Committee chairman Councillor Phyllis Pollard, who moved refusal of the scheme, said: “I have never known any issue that has caused so much fear and almost a feeling of breakdown in the community, not just Leven, it's the surrounding villages of Catwick, Brandesburton, Long Riston, Tickton and Routh.
“In other words, it's a large area of the East Riding that's potentially affected by this application."
Cllr Pollard said residents were concerned about smells, noise, traffic, the impact on the countryside, a possible failure of the plant, potential health and safety issues and the impact on local businesses and tourism.
She warned: “If we were to approve this application we would be ignoring the concerns of the residents that I certainly feel we have a duty to protect."
Councillor John Whittle condemned the scheme as “an abomination".
He said: “It should not be permitted. It should not be dumped on the doorsteps of these parishes."
Councillor Anthony Galbraith criticised the involvement of school children in the protest campaign but agreed the site was too close to Leven.
He said: “We are dealing after all with explosive materials."
Councillor David Rudd claimed the site was the wrong location, saying: “I am pretty sure the impact would be quite catastrophic for motorists and residents."
Rob Farrow, agent for the applicant, had told the committee permission was granted for an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant at the site in 2013.
Mr Farrow said: “The proposed 5.45Mw AD Plant is sited immediately adjacent to the main gas line running from Easington to Scarborough and will be able to deliver gas to grid efficiently and without any disturbance outside of the site.
“In turn, the gas will be distributed to over 10,000 homes as renewable energy and contribute greatly to the reduction of CO2 emissions."
Apart from gas, Mr Farrow said the process produces digestate water which contains no micro plastics, toxic substances or any damaging agent that may harm the environment.
After separating from the solids, said the water quality is good enough to apply to the land as fertiliser and a high percentage of this would be used on the land farmed by applicants FD Bird & Sons. Any remaining solids would be mixed with silt from the quarry to produce high quality top soil.
Mr Farrow, who said the screened site was within a quarry and recycling centre operating 24 hours a day, insisted planning policy supported the principle of the scheme.
East Riding planning officers had recommended approval of the application but the committee unanimously rejected it because of the visual impact it would have.
Afterwards, protesters vowed to oppose any planning appeal.
Mark Gillyon-Powell said: “The refusal of permission is a huge relief not only for myself and my family but for the hundreds of people across the villages who have been so distressed and very worried about this.
“The weight of public feeling has certainly had an impact. It has been united and we will be ready for any appeal."