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Energy firm launch fresh application for Deal Farm Biogas in Bressingham

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Energy bosses have submitted a fresh application to a planning authority after they were ordered to cease work on a controversial biogas plant late last year.

In October, South Norfolk Council ordered energy firm Biowatt to pause all construction work on Deal Farm Biogas – an anaerobic digestion plant in Kenninghall Road in Bressingham that will process waste and turn it into fertiliser.

The council ruled that the project had veered too far from the original plans, which were approved in 2015, with two digester tanks being built, both bigger than the one it was granted permission for.

Energy bosses have applied for retrospective planning permission on the plant. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2021.
Energy bosses have applied for retrospective planning permission on the plant. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2021.

The decision was welcomed by residents and campaign groups, who had warned that the plant would cause untold damage to the local environment and will result thousands of lorries travelling to and from the site every year.

Last week, Biowatt announced that it has submitted a new planning application, which is available to view on the council’s planning portal, with a number of changes which it has pledged will address the concerns of residents.

Amongst the changes to the new application is; a water lagoon to the north west of the site to improve water management; a rectangular containment area for containing any potential spills from the digester; and pasteurisation for the digestate to ensure it is weed seed free and suitable for local farmers to use.

Late last year, nearly 200 people took to the council’s planning portal to lodge their objections to the plant, after Biowatt applied for retrospective permission for the changes to the project.

Opponents warned that transporting the additional feedstock needed for two digester tanks could see more than 5,000 lorries passing through the streets of Bressingham and other villages every year.

Other concerns raised by residents during a village hall meeting in October included pollution from methane leakage, caused by the anaerobic digestion process, and noise pollution.

To address the concerns about vehicle movements to and from the site, Biowatt has carried out a study, which has been included in the application.

It claims that the average number of vehicle movements to and from Deal Farm will in fact reduce from an average of 4,284 per annum over the past five years to a projected 3,439 once the plant is fully operational.

It added that local farmers look set to gain from the new plant.

In a statement, the firm said: “Fundamentally, the AD plant being delivered at Deal Farm will significantly benefit local farmers, who will be able to safely store and dispose of their farm by-products at the Deal Farm site, to be transformed into renewable biogas and organic fertiliser.

“Ordinarily, farmers would have to pay to have these materials transported across the country to be handled, therefore creating cost, time and environmental implications.

“As such, not only will delivering the AD plant at Deal Farm minimise these implications for local farmers, but they will further benefit from the digestate produced at the site, which will be pumped to remote off-take points for farmers to utilise on soil and crops on their own farms.”

Councillors and residents will meet tomorrow at Bressingham Village Hall to discuss the latest application.

Last year, more than 70 residents packed the venue in Hall Road to voice their opposition to the plans.

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