Digester application set for approval despite opposition

Plans to process chicken manure at an anaerobic digestion plant on the outskirts of a town are set to approved despite concerns from neighbours over the potential smell.

Shropshire Council will make a decision on the plan
Shropshire Council will make a decision on the plan

Whitchurch Biogas Ltd has applied to Shropshire Council to vary its planning permission after it was granted a permit by the Environment Agency (EA) in January to handle waste and non-waste feedstocks at the plant.

It is currently only permitted to process agricultural crop products and whey permeate.

The town council objected to the proposal along with 36 members of the public, but planning officers have recommended approval and said similar plants across the county do not receive odour complaints.

A decision will be made by the council’s northern planning committee at a meeting next week).

A report by planning officer Graham French says: “There are now over 20 operational anaerobic digestion (AD) sites of above 5kw capacity in Shropshire and recent odour complaints have been received at just one of these.

“If an increase in odour of the digestate was observed following the introduction of poultry manure to the feedstock mix then the odour management plan linked to the Environment Agency permit would address this.

“This could potentially require a reduction or cessation of manure importation until the issue had been fully mitigated.”

The report says the applicants were confident there would be no increased odour, and this would be monitored by the Environment Agency.

Mr French says: “Following the issue of an environmental permit to accept waste feedstocks the Environment Agency will now have a statutory role in controlling any future odour issues at the site.

“This has not been the case beforehand as waste feedstocks have not previously been accepted at the facility.

“A number of measures have been incorporated into the current proposals to minimise the risk of odour.”

Whitchurch Town councillors unanimously objected to the application, saying they were “dissatisfied” with the lack of information on manure deliveries and the continued submission of applications for changes at the site.

The plant was initially granted planning permission in 2014 and has since had three further applications for variations and additional infrastructure approved.

The report concludes: “The individual issues raised by the proposals have been assessed.

“No environmental issues have been identified which would suggest any material conflict with relevant development plan policies.

"There would be no overall increase in traffic relative to the currently approved scheme.

“Concerns in relation to odour are capable of being controlled by the recommended conditions and additional control would be exercised by the Environment Agency under the permitting process.”

The application will be decided at a planning committee meeting on Tuesday.

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