Objectors to Scottish Highlands biogas plant cite economic and environmental impacts

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Objectors to plans for a bid to establish a £25m anaerobic digestion plant (ADP) in Easter Ross say it would have "severe economic, environmental and social impacts" on the area, reported Ross-Shire Journal.
Acorn Bioenergy outlined its proposals to create news ADPs in the Highlands, Moray and Aberdeenshire, with total invesment plans amounting to £105m.
The Easter Ross proposals have already been the subject of public meetings and local councillors previously sought more details on the number of HGV trips that would be required to the plant.
It has already around 100 objections from members of the public since being lodged with Highland Council.
Objectors gathering at Balintore Harbour to oppose the plans warned it would have severe economic, environmental and social impacts across the Highlands with the farming, tourism and hospitality sectors all affected.
A statement released by local objectors gathered around a 'Say no to gas plant' sign said: "NFU Scotland have estimated more than half of Easter Ross prime agricultural land would be required to feed this plant."
They also questioned whether Highland Council should require Acorn to use Ofgem’s most recent definition of waste, which would exclude the inclusion of draff and straw, used in livestock businesses.
They said councillors have a responsibility to ensure prospective developments realise the best interests of community resources and that in recognition an economic and environmental impact assessment was requested for this application.
They added the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) highlighted the challenges in overcoming the safety issues raised with the proposal and were "sufficiently concerned they recommended Acorn find an alternative site".
The statement continued: "Considering serious safety concerns have been raised by the CAA and others, why is there no safety risk assessment available?
"Current government policy is to reduce gas utilisation, then paradoxically support international investors to produce gas, perpetuating the very environmental effects they apparently wish to mitigate! Even more damaging is their flawed strategy of shifting vast swaths of arable land from food production to gas production, all amidst an apparent food and cost-of living crisis!
"If we need gas we can take it from the North Sea, let’s stop being fooled by the ‘greenwashing’. There is no doubt this plant will benefit the landowner and local distilleries, sadly this gain will be at the expense of residents, tourists and small businesses across the wider community.
"All things considered, we respectfully request Highland Council ensure detailed economic and environmental impact and safety risk assessments be completed and their findings made public before deciding this application."
A spokesman for Acorn Bioenergy said: “We are aware of the concerns being expressed by a number of local people and will make sure these are addressed during the ongoing planning process.”

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