Plans to regularise and upgrade a biogas energy production facility at Crouchland Farm in Plaistow, Sussex have been forcefully refused by West Sussex Council planning committee (March 3, 2015).
Crouchland Farm Biogas attempted to obtain planning permission to allow upgrades of an anaerobic digester together with ancillary equipment together with two further CHP power plants, an effluent lagoon and related infrastructure. Despite the planning application being considered in March 2015 the applicant had already undertaken much of the work that they subsequently sought to obtain permission for... effects of which had already resulted in misery for residents of nearby houses and surrounding villages.
image c/o: http://www.pore.org.uk/news
Had the application been approved by the council, the proposed upgrades would have allowed the farm to expand operational capacity even further, to turn more farm waste (manure) and field crops (such as maize), to produce 'bio-methane' which can be used to generate electricity and heat.
Unlike most other farm diversification / renewable energy schemes - Crouchland Farm had already expanded way beyond the originally proposed 'farm scale' system and it was clearly evident that traffic movements (particularly HGV lorries) had already far exceeded original expectations.
Unlike many farm scale operations dotted around the country, Crouchland Farm had expanded to an significant, 'industrial' scale.
More than 100 local people from the villages of Plaistow, Ifold and Kirdford attended the council meeting in Horsham to express their vehement objection to the farm's plans.
Local concerns related mainly to matters about highways safety, residential amenity and nuisance caused to local people, together with detrimental effects of the proposal on the character and tranquillity of an otherwise peaceful rural area.
Three hours of debate in council chambers resulted in a vocal refusal of the retrospective application - despite a recommendation from council planning officers to approve the plans.
Despite the positive result for residents, the applicants will still have the opportunity to appeal the council's decision, however despite this, following chambers discussions, enforcement action is likely to follow.
While the Crouchland Biogas saga is set to continue, the first battle by residents has clearly been successful. A notable achievement by local residents, particularly in the face of the supportive stance adopted by the council's own planning team!
Watch this space: Application details can be found here