A farming firm has submitted plans for a new anaerobic digester which it hopes will convert thousands of tonnes of waste crops into gas and heat.

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.

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.

In its application to the district council, agents acting for Collmart, which farms more than 3,500 acres in Cambridgeshire, said: “The feedstocks for the process will consist of a total of 25,000 tonnes per annum made up of 5,500 tonnes of onion waste, 6,650 tonnes of straw, 5,500 tonnes of sugar beet pulp and 7,000 tonnes of maize. All of the

feedstock will either be sourced as a by-product from the onion processing or grown by Collmart Growers on their land within Cambridgeshire.

“The process will also produce 16,000 tonnes of digestate per annum. 7,200 tonnes of water per annum is also used in the process, much of this will come from a lagoon that forms part of this proposal and which will store all the surface water from the maize clamp and site in general.

“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.”

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”.

Agents predict the plant will produce about 3.5 megawatts of biomethane and 0.6 megawatts of heat.

Neither Farcet Parish Council or the Bedford Group of Drainage Boards raised objections to the plans, which will be considered by the district council in the weeks ahead.