Plans to build an anaerobic digester in Chatteris could be given the go-ahead during a crunch meeting later today.
Fenland District Council officers have recommend members of the planning committee grant Pretoria Energy permission to put up the digester on 13 hectare site off Iretons Way.
The Cambridge-based firm wants to generate 4Mw of energy from maize to be used at the site and exported to the gas grid. An earlier set of plans were turned down by the planning committee during a meeting in February.
Objections have been lodged to the application by residents along with Chatteris Town Council over fears for odour, the effect on nearby housing and highways safety.
A report to today’s planning committee states that the application has addressed many concerns.
It adds: “In view of the scale of the proposal, it is inevitable that there will be an impact upon the landscape, and the proposal seeks to reduce this. Furthermore, there is some harm to the landscape setting of the designated heritage assets (neolithic enclosures in Horsley Fen). However this harm needs to be weighed against the benefits for renewable energy and therefore the application is recommended for approval.”
The plant will require 80,000 tones of maize which will be grown in farms around the Fenland area.
Methane gas is collected as the maize is broken down by bacteria in a primary digester over 60 days. It is then transferred to a secondary digester where lower levels of gas is released.
The maize is initially stored in silage clamps.
The left over material will returns to the fields as a fertiliser either in a solid form or as a liquid, which is initially stored in a reservoir.
The report says: “There is a potential for odour and noise from the plant and additional traffic movements to and from the site and it will be important to ensure that all potential impacts can be safely controlled through evidenced reports and surveys.”
The gas is cleaned and upgraded to national grid standard. A new gas pipeline is needed to connect the plant to the national grid network and this will require a separate planning application.