Agenda item

Proposed Anaerobic Digestion Unit on Land at Attleborough Poultry Farms off the B1077

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.


Members had received direct e-mail representation in respect of this application.


The Principal Planning Officer (Major Projects) presented this full application for an on-farm anaerobic digestion unit including a combined heat and power plant (CHP), gas storage vessel and underground storage tanks, silage clamp and a lagoon for the storage of feedstock and digestate.  A new access road was also proposed.


A similar application had been withdrawn last year following objections raised by the Environment Agency.


Since writing the report the comments of Great Ellingham Parish Council had been received and they were objecting to the application.  The number of representations received had also risen to approximately 60.


The main issues to be considered were landscape impact and the effect on amenity.


Although the Environment Agency had raised strong objections to the previous application on grounds of smell, none had been raised this time as they considered the matters could be dealt with by the permit requirements which could control all environmental effects and the day-to-day management of the unit.


Officers felt they had received conflicting advice which put them in a difficult position.  Planning advice required any planning permissions to be complementary to permit requirements and more information had been requested from the Environment Agency on these requirements.  This additional information had only recently been received.


In light of the above, the recommendation of refusal was amended and Members were asked to defer the application to allow an opportunity for detailed consideration and public consultation of the additional information.


Mr Irvine, objector, had concerns about pollution of groundwater, the effect on local jobs and the Environment Agency permit requirements.  However, due to the time constraints he wished to focus on highway safety concerns.  He said that the assessment submitted with the application contained errors and presented a false impression as figures had been gathered during the school holidays.  There were three access points to be considered but only one visibility splay was to be conditioned and he was concerned about the access into the lay-by, which was frequented by HGVs.


Mr Stasiak, Ward Representative, thought that the application was flawed and should be refused.  He raised the following concerns:

·                    highway safety issues as the B1077 was a very busy road;

·                    only one person would be required to look after the unit, but it might lead to the loss of 10-20 jobs;

·                    the fuel supply for the unit might have to be brought in from long distances in the future;

·                    land for the visibility splay was not in the ownership of the applicant; and

·                    odour would be a problem and the nearest dwelling was only 250m away.


Distances were clarified: the nearest dwelling was 250metres from the unit and the nearest public building (a veterinary practice) was 160metres.  For a standard Environment Agency permit no public building should be within 250metres, but a bespoke permit could be issued. 


Members discussed the potential for smell and also the risk of airborne spores from the rotting materials carrying disease.  They were surprised that the applicant was not present to answer questions and one sought further clarification from the objector about his Environment Agency permit concerns.


Mr Irvine explained that the standard guidance was that no public building should be within 250metres.  He believed that the nearest public buildings were in fact the adjacent turkey sheds, which were only 25metres from the unit and employed ten members of staff.  These sheds were specialist breeding units and they would probably have to move if permission was granted, because of the smell, leading to the loss of ten local jobs.


The Solicitor advised Members that the Committee had powers to look at the wider context, but they needed sufficient information.  On paper there was no objection from either the Environment Agency or the Highways Authority.  Pollution, noise and traffic issues needed to be overcome and he did not consider that the Committee had sufficient information to either approve or refuse the application.


After some further discussion a Member moved that the application be deferred and this was seconded by the Chairman.


RESOLVED to defer the application for additional clarification, and to request attendance by representatives of the Applicant, the Environment Agency and the Highways Authority, when the application returned to Committee.


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