Villagers are waiting with bated breath as a second appeal to build a controversial anaerobic digester in Wimblington nears completion.
Residents are “keeping everything crossed” that planning inspector Nick Palmer will throw out Fengrain’s renewed plan to build the plant next to its site in Hook Lane after he paid a visit last week.
A total of 67 placard-waving protesters turned out for the visit, leaving Mr Palmer in doubt about the level of concern in the village.
Placards highlighted objections including increased noise and smell pollution, and damage to the look and rural character of the countryside.
There are also concerns about increased traffic in the village, and fears it will compound problems at the “dangerous” Eastwood End junction with the A141.
Mr Palmer was met by Paul Randle, Fengrain’s business development director, and the company’s solicitor Peter Brady, but was kept waiting by Fenland Council’s planning department, whose representative was 37 minutes late.
The authority mislaid a letter giving details of the site visit, and was unaware it was going ahead until it received a phone call on the morning.
Leading the campaigners were the two Fenland councillors for the ward, David Connor and Maureen Davis, along with Arthur Lamb, deputy chairman of Wimblington Against the Anaerobic Digester (WAAD).
Mr Connor said the late arrival of the council representative “did not go down well” with residents, who felt it showed a “complete lack of regard” for the matter.
Once the site visit finally got underway, he said it went well and Mr Palmer “left no stone unturned”.
He also spoke to residents on the day including an elderly woman who lives within 60 metres of the proposed plant .
“She is very worried what will happen if it goes ahead,” he said. “She just wants to live the rest of her life in peace.
“All we can do now is keep everything crossed that the inspector dismisses the appeal again, and Fengrain goes back to concentrating on its core business. Hopefully we will be able to see the back of it.”
Resident Chris Hennen claimed the digester would be an “eyesore” on the landscape and said the extra traffic – estimated to be a maximum of 78 heavy goods vehicles a day – would be “disastrous” for the village and surrounding area.
“The traffic would not only affect Doddington, but Wimblington too and all around, as the traffic would be coming from all directions,” he said.
Mr Randle said Fengrain respects the right its neighbours have to protest, but was confident its new plan was able to “overcome their objections”.
He added: “Firstly we have utilised new land behind, which is part of our industrial site and behind our existing buildings, for the main workings of the plant. This land was not in the original plan.
“Two holding tanks have been moved further away from the byway and closer to existing buildings and proposed storage clamps have been turned 90 degrees so any open ends face the main site. We have also created a much wider margin from the byway for improved screening.”