Wimblington digester recommended for approval

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Plans to build an anaerobic digester have been recommended for approval.

Fengrain has applied to Fenland District Council to build a digester at its Wimblington site which will process 45,000 tonnes of sugar beet, rye, grass or maize to create gas. The company says this will create an extra market for farmers.

The plans were met with some opposition from people living in the village, who fear it will create excessive noise, traffic and odour.

District council officers have recommended planning committee members approve the application, which is due to be discussed at a meeting today (Wednesday).

An earlier application was refused in February on the grounds of visual amenity, landscape character and overbearing impact on nearby properties.

A report to the planning meeting states the application includes additional fencing, landscaping and moving equipment away from homes.

It states: “It is considered that these amendments have overcome the previous reason for refusal primarily due to the equipment being predominantly obscured by the proposed boundary treatments from a public viewpoint.”

Fengrain has released a statement to say the firm had taken professional advice after the application was refused in February on visual amenity grounds.

The statement adds: “We listened to all of the concerns raised by objectors and planning committee members and believe that our revised plans have dealt with all of these issues.

“We have committed more land to the project, and moved the facility further away from the bridleway and nearest dwellings.

“We have also included wider margins along the bridleway for hedgerows and screening, so the facility will be barely visible by most neighbours.

“The planning officer has done a thorough and professional job and in her report sets out reasons as to why the application meets all planning requirements.

“We understand some of our neighbours’ concerns but we genuinely believe that many of these are unfounded and that, once the site is in operation, they will hardly know it is there.

“We don’t consider that planning permission is a foregone conclusion, but we believe we have answered the issues raised at the previous meeting and have a very strong proposal.”

A total of 75 people went to a meeting organised by Wimblington Against Anaerobic Digester committee members on Wednesday last week.

The committee has spent £2,500 on compiling a 50-page document, which includes statements from three professional consultants.

One of the people, Angela Johnson, said there was still a lot of opposition to the plans.

She said: “We have given our document to the planning department and committee. On this application we have looked at this in more depth.

“We need to address our concerns with strong arguments and this time we have a very strong argument and people were impressed at the meeting with the document.”

The plans are expected to be deferred to a meeting in October.