August 23 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Friday, May 30, 2014
Up to 80,000 tonnes of maize will be grown around the Fens – a quarter of it in Manea- to help fuel an anaerobic digestion plant which planners have approved at Chatteris.
Refused in February, Pretoria Energy of Chittering, won permission at their second time of asking – but only on the casting vote of the chairman of Fenland Council planning committee.
The plant had raised concerns among both residents and met strong opposition from Chatteris Town Council.
Town councillors had expressed fears of odour, the loss of thousands of acres of land to maize growing and they also expressed road safety fears.
However following amendments put forward by Pretoria Energy, Fenland Council agreed the development – which also includes a 12.5million gallon surface water reservoir-, can be built.
It will be sited at Greys Farm, Ireton Way, Chatteris, and is expected to produce 4Mw of energy from maize for use both on the site and for export to the national grid. The plant occupies some 32 acres.
Chatteris Town Council insisted Pretoria had shown “no evidence this will be a sustainable development” whilst Witcham Parish Council was concerned about debris from taking the crops along the Mepal to Chatteris stretch of road.
The council said it was aware that steps are being taken to clean the road regularly “but it is still an acceptable hazard for road users”.
Mepal Parish Council was also concerned about additional mud on the roads but said it did not wish to oppose the application.
Sutton Parish Council said the production of methane so close to Mepal Outdoor Centre was a concern and also wanted to ensure that only the A142 was used and vehicles didn’t go through the village.
The planning committee heard that 10 letters of objection had been received raising concerns about “odour, flies and vermin coming from the site and increased traffic on the B1098 which joins to the A142”.
Fenland’s planning team argued that the loss of farm land for the plant “is not considered to be significant”.
They agreed there was “potential for odour and noise” but felt sufficient controls could be put in place.
They also said “adequate conditions” could be put in place to protect the amenities of nearby residents.
“The amended proposal has sought to overcome the reasons for refusal,” officers told the committee.