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Bressingham residents mobilise once more following latest Deal Farm Biogas application

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Frustrated residents have mobilised once more to voice their opposition to the latest planning application for a controversial biogas plant.

Villagers remain defiant in their battle to stop the plant from going ahead in Bressingham, in what one described as a “war of attrition”.

Last month, developer Storengy announced it would be reducing the amount of feedstock travelling to the anaerobic digester plant, withdrawing its initial planning application and replacing it with a revised one.

Campaigners outside Bressingham Village Hall on Thursday, July 14. Picture: Hazel Dormer
Campaigners outside Bressingham Village Hall on Thursday, July 14. Picture: Hazel Dormer

On Thursday, July 14, more than 80 people attended Bressingham Village Hall to voice their continued opposition, accusing Storengy of trying to game the planning system.

Sue Butler, from Villa Farm, said: “They’ve tried to manipulate the system up and down the country – the only problem they’ve got here is that we’ve busted them on it.

“It’s a direct manipulation, on the hope that nobody’s going to pick up on exactly what they’re doing.”

Development on the plant was ordered to cease by South Norfolk Council last year after Storengy began building additional digester tanks capable of processing significantly more than 24,000 tonnes of feedstock.

With the reduction of the proposed feedstock amount, Storengy claims the only change that remain from the original 2015 permission is the addition of carbon capture, a small agricultural building for manure storage, a secondary containment bund for the digesters and lagoons for safe storage of digestate.

Campaigners said that these additions would be rendered unnecessary now that the proposed levels of digestate have been halved, leaving the plant financially unviable.

“They’ve built a plant the size it is ... now they’re saying they’re going to put half the amount of feedstock in to it, but they’ve still got the same capacity, if not more,” added Mrs Butler.

“The gamble of the developer is thinking we’re all going to get bored and sail off into the sunset, but they’ve got the wrong people.”

While the previous application generated hundreds of objections, these have been rendered redundant by the fresh submission.

“What they’re doing is conducting a war of attrition,” said one villager. “I’ve sent my objections before, now I have to do it again.”

Another Bressingham resident rallied residents to continue their opposition to the plans.

“How can all of the people that objected to it originally be negated by a new application?” he asked.

“This means that everyone has to fight with more vim and vigour to make it worthwhile.

“We have to make more effort into putting more objections in.”

A spokesman for Deal Farm Biogas insisted that the comments made by residents at the meeting last week had “been taken on board”.

Despite launching a new planning application, the spokesman promised that the initial comments made on the earlier application would all be addressed in an upcoming report, which the developer is preparing to post on the council’s planning portal.

“The comments of residents in the previous application have been taken on board, and we hope that the amends made to the application go some way in alleviating some of the concerns raised,” the spokesman said.

“We have in no way intended to overwrite these objections through the submission of a new application, and this report seeks to acknowledge these previous responses on the new application file.”

Developers have applied to South Norfolk Council multiple times for planning permission on Deal Farm Biogas. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2022.
Developers have applied to South Norfolk Council multiple times for planning permission on Deal Farm Biogas. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2022.

Deal Farm Biogas did not disclose when the report would be submitted.

The company also tried to reassure residents that it will, subject to the plans winning approval, only process the amount of feedstock granted by South Norfolk Council.

The spokesman said: “The plant has always had the capacity to process more feedstock, but we have confirmed to the planning authority that we are happy to be conditioned on the feedstock level processed as per the new application in order to alleviate pressure on the local road network.

“It is not possible for us to increase the feedstock levels without submitting another planning application; that would need to be consulted on publicly and approved by the planning authority.

“It is worth acknowledging that the size of the anaerobic digester plant is exactly the same as in the 2015 application (15,000m3), despite claims from the community that the plant is bigger in physical size."

To leave a comment on the latest planning application for Deal Farm Biogas, go to the South Norfolk’s planning portal, click here.

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