Campaign launched by villagers to block anaerobic digester plans

The group of villagers protesting against the plans. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The group of villagers protesting against the plans. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A group of residents from Pondersbridge have formed a campaign group in an effort to stop plans which could see an anaerobic digester built in the village.

Collmart Growers, of Pondersbridge, near Ramsey, has applied to Huntingdonshire District Council to site the digester opposite its packing and storage facilities in The Drove.

The farming firm submitted plans for the anaerobic digester, which would convert waste crops into gas and heat, earlier this year.

However, residents in the village are objecting to the plans amid worries about the visibility of the digester, the traffic it could bring, and the harm that it could do to wildlife in the village.

Chris Thompson, who has been leading the campaign group, which is made up of around 10 residents, is asking the district council to refuse the project due to the damage it could do to wildlife in the area.

Mr Thompson said: “The Environment Agency recommends that such a development is a minimum of 400 metres from the nearest residents, but the proposed site falls within only 275 metres. The risk of unpleasant odour, increased noise, increased traffic and increase in pests such as vermin or insects is immense.

“There are several serious health and safety risks to local people if the plant is not maintained 100 per cent and there are impacts on local wildlife.

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“I am an environmental and sustainability consultant living in the village and have grave concerns over the level of protection offered to residents. Whilst we’re able to voice our concerns however, the local wildlife cannot.”

Anaerobic digesters capture the heat and gases released by rotting biological material, such as crops, and use them to heat and power existing farm premises. Much of the gas produced in the process is also sold to the National Grid.

The planning agents said the nearest home to the proposed plant, located less than 300 metres away, would be unaffected by the proposal which was described as “relatively small scale”.

The agents added: “Any leachate from the maize clamp will also be stored in the proposed lagoon. The process of anaerobic digestion is largely silent and the biogas upgrade unit and compressor is located within a purpose made building. There will be no odour from the process, as the system is ‘closed’ because of the need to keep oxygen out.”

Mr Thompson said: “I know in the planning statement that it says houses won’t be affected but of course they will be. The noise, amount of traffic and smell of this would be detrimental to those living nearby.”

Ramsey Town Council was consulted on the plans at a meeting on October 11, and 14 councillors unanimously agreed to recommend refusal. It will now be up to the district council to have the final say.