Scottish dairy giant receives almost 100 objections for planned anaerobic digester
Graham’s the Family Dairy has submitted an application to Stirling Council seeking permission to install an anaerobic digester - which would turn cow manure and dairy bi-products into biomethane - on land 255 metres north east of Mains of Boquhan.
The process would turn dairy and agricultural waste from Graham’s Cowdenbeath, Boquhan and Airthrey Kerse sites into 98 per cent methane, to be used as a renewable source of heat for Graham’s soft cheese production at Glenfield Dairy in Cowdenbeath and also to replace diesel as HGV fuel.
Digestate produced as part of the process would be used on adjoining farmland owned by them at Boquhan, replacing fossil fuel derived fertiliser.
Council planners are reportedly recommending conditional approval of the application for the site, which extends to 1.9 hectares and lies north of the A811 on open Carseland.
However, the level of objection has meant it has been referred to the local authority's planning panel for councillors to have the final say.
Council planners said the proposal was part of Graham's plans to "decarbonise the business", in a report due before Tuesday's panel.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) had initially submitted a holding objective, claiming they required further information on potential odour nuisance and feedstock handling and storage - although this has since been withdrawn.
A total of 103 letters of comment were received - one in support, five not indicating either objection or support, and 97 objecting. Included in the objections were Kippen and Gargunnock Community Councils.
Concerns cited included pollutants reaching local watercourses, public health risk, odours, explosive hazard, inappropriate rural location, light pollution from digester flares, potential for increasing industrialisation of the Carse and over-inflation by the applicant of the environmental benefits.
The objectors also claimed the site had been chosen since the applicant’s plans for a site at Cowdenbeath had been rejected with over 300 objections.
In a report due before next week’s panel, however, council planners said: “SEPA offered no objection to the development on flood risk grounds. Any flood risk to the site is limited and will be mitigated due to the bunds required under pollution prevention control/waste management licence regulations.
“This site is owned by the applicant and will benefit from the proximity to the existing agricultural and dairy operations which the applicant runs nearby.
“The applicant has established businesses within the Stirling area which currently benefit the Stirling economy. This proposal will complement those businesses whilst contributing to a reduction in the carbon dioxide emissions of the applicant’s businesses.”
“This proposal also benefits from being accommodated within the existing group of farm buildings which are remote from residential properties,” it continued.
The planners said an air quality and odour assessment considered key aspects to be operational effects such as releases along with dust emissions and construction impacts.
They added: “The assessment concluded that in terms of the operation of the proposed facility, the stack emissions and fugitive emissions will be well within acceptable levels at identified residential or sensitive ecological receptors and will not give rise to any significant adverse effects.
“Dust and odour emissions were anticipated to be less significant than similar process activities in agricultural areas.
“SEPA’s air quality specialists reviewed the assessment and had no concerns that air quality standards will be breached from these sources.
“Artificial lighting will be directed to minimise light spill. The flare is shrouded and therefore will not be visible to the naked eye.”