« BackNews: Digester Application Set For Approval Despite Opposition
Digester Application Set For Approval Despite Opposition
An anaerobic digestion plant in Whitchurch, Shropshire is likely to receive permission to process chicken manure after it was granted a permit by the Environmental Agency (EA).
The reports that Whitchurch Biogas Ltd has originally had its planning permission denied by the town council due to objections from 36 members of the public concerned about the possibility of foul odours from the plant.
However, after being granted a permit by the EA in January to handle waste and non-waste feedstocks, the operators of the plant have applied to Shropshire Council to vary its planning permission. It is currently permitted to only process agricultural crop products and whey permeate.
Planning officers have recommended approving the changes, saying that similar plants in the UK have not received any odour complaints.
The council’s northern planning committee will be meeting shortly to make a decision.
A report by planning officer Graham French says: “There are now over 20 operational anaerobic digestion (AD) sites of above 5kw capacity in Shropshire and recent odour complaints have been received at just one of these.”
He added that if an increase in odour of the digenstate was observed following the introduction of poultry manure to the feedstock mix at the plant, then the odour management plan that is linked t the EA permit would address it.
“This could potentially require a reduction or cessation of manure importation until the issue had been fully mitigated,” he said.
According to the report, the applicants were confident that there would be no increase in the odour, which would be monitored by the Environment Agency.
Mr French said that following the issuing of an environmental permit for the waste feedstock, the EA now has a statutory role in controlling any odour issues that may occur at the plant in the future.
Prior to the permit being granted, waste feedstocks had not bee accepted at the plant, meaning the EA had no interest in the control of any odours, and now there have been several measures incorporated into the new proposals to minimise the risk of offending odours.
Whitchurch Town councillors unanimously objected to the application, claiming they were dissatisfied with continued submissions of applications for changes at the facility. Planning permission was initially granted in 2014 and has had three further applications approved for variations and additional infrastructure.
Berrys, agent to the applicant, said that during the anaerobic digestion process at no time would any material be exposed to the atmosphere until digested, and then released as largely odour-free digenstate.
The report concluded that the issues raised by the proposals have been assessed and no environmental issues had been identified that would conflict with relevant development plan policies, and there would be no increase in traffic to the site.
“Concerns in relation to odour are capable of being controlled by the recommended conditions and additional control would be exercised by the Environment Agency under the permitting process,” it said.
The application will be decided at a planning committee meeting on Tuesday 9 November.
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