06:00 Thursday 05 June 2014

Another anaerobic digester plant for East Cambs - despite 'grave concerns' from locals

Written byJORDAN DAY

East Cambridgeshire District Council's HQ. East Cambridgeshire District Council's HQ.

Plans to build another anaerobic digester plant in East Cambridgeshire have been approved - despite grave concerns from locals.

Pretoria Energy Ltd, the firm run by local farmer Richard Lee and which is currently building anaerobic digester facilities in Chittering, applied to Fenland District Council for planning permission to build another plant around 10 miles away last year, but the proposals were rejected.

However, as previously reported, the company then submitted a fresh set of plans for the development on land east of Greys Farm in Iretons Way, Chatteris - around 500m from Mepal Outdoor Centre - which bosses insisted resolved the previous concerns raised.

Despite objections from nearby residents and concerns from Mepal, Sutton and Witcham parish councils, the proposals have now been approved by planners at Fenland District Council.

Among those opposing the scheme were Mr and Mrs K Smith, of Chatteris Road, Mepal.

They said: “We have grave concerns. The traffic from the large JCB machines which were used last year to move the maize past out property was horrendous.

“They were moving from around 5am until 3am the next day, running at least eight machines in convoy with no regard to the noise and congestion they were causing.

“Our roads are very congested now without more polluting heavy vehicles running at ridiculous times. This is supposed to be a green friendly option - for who we ask ourselves.”

The plans involve building four ‘primary digester tanks’ measuring 22.4m by 8.4m, eight storage tanks of varying size, three ‘secondary digester tanks’ measuring 33.9m by 12.8m, a ‘digestate tank’ measuring 36.7m by 12.8m and a ‘gas scrub unit’ with chimneys 11.5m high.

The whole aim of the plant is to turn maize into renewable energy.

In a statement to the council, their agents said the tanks would all be grey in colour in order to “blend into the skyline”.

They said: “Energy projects such as this are promoted by the Government because they produce renewable sources of heat and power whilst contributing towards a reduction in the generation of greenhouse gases.

“The Landscape Impact Assessment demonstrates that the development would not have a detrimental effect upon the local landscape.

“Some parts of the process could potentially give rise to odour emissions, which would be alleviated through the adoption of standard best practice measures. No other pollution issues are considered to be of overriding concern.”

Planners said that the loss of agricultural land for the plant was “not considered to be significant” and that “adequate conditions” could be put in place to protect the amenities of nearby residents.

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