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UK biogas plant gets green light

The smell was not enough – plans to build a controversial biogas plant in the UK are going ahead despite hefty opposition.

Plans submitted by S S Agriservices for a £4 million (€4.58 million) anaerobic digestion unit on land at Attleborough Poultry Farms in Norfolk won approval despite 150 letters of objection about the possible smell.

The process uses bacteria to break down organic material like crops, poultry manure and cattle slurry to produce a biogas, containing methane, which could then fuel an on-site power plant producing electricity and heat. Feedstock and the resulting digestate would be stored in a silage clamp and lagoon, covered by a tarpaulin.

But, with some houses within 250m of the plant and the St Luke's Hospital only 400m away, concerns were raised about the impact of odours and gases on neighbouring residents and workers at the turkey farm.

Industry insiders note the procedure for licensing anaerobic digestion projects in the UK is still in its infancy, as there are only 12 plants in the UK compared to 7,000 in Germany.