Plans for AD plant in Somerset rejected

Plans for a major biogas plant in Somerset, UK, have been unanimously rejected, amid claims it would result in increased traffic, light pollution, and odour issues.

Hundreds opposed Resourceful Energy Anaerobic Ltd’s (REAL) bid to build an anaerobic digester plant capable of processing 92,000 tonnes of food waste and crops annually, Somerset Live reported.

In refusing permission, planning chiefs said the development was not needed and would not benefit the residents of Bath and North East Somerset.

Rob Duff, a representative of campaign group Protect Our Keynsham Environment, said the development was a “very different beast” to the scheme approved in 2014 and that it was unnecessary.

He told Somerset Live: “I have been a town planner for over 30 years and have never come across unauthorised or proposed developments as harmful to the green belt as that before you today. The site is simply unsuitable for the proposed development. Even if a need did exist, this is not the right site for it.”

In its application, REAL said more than 6,000 tonnes of CO2 would be saved every year, but planning officers said it had omitted the 81,000 tonnes of CO2 that would be emitted during construction.

REAL project director Phil Gerrard said the officers assessment contained ‘significant inaccuracies’, adding: “Members should consider how far off course the district is from its obligations on renewable energy and give significant weight to the contribution this project makes to [the council’s] renewable targets and our overall energy security.”

In a written statement to the meeting, Councillor Lisa O’Brien said: “We have to tackle the climate emergency, but not at any price. The physical wellbeing of our residents and our local environment must come first.”

The area’s food waste is currently sent to an AD facility in Avonmouth to generate electricity. Councillor Eleanor Jackson said she sympathises with the people at Avonmouth “who have to put up with terrible smells and disruption and heavy vehicles” but that the Bath and North East Somerset community doesn’t want “our share of it”.

In recent months, residents in Norfolk complained about the expansion of a biogas plant, arguing that it would cause “untold damage” to the environment that it was “at odds” with the original plans submitted. Deal Farm Biogas has since submitted a new, partly retrospective planning application to validate changes made to its original plans for the AD facility.

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