CPRE Avon and Bristol has objected again to a new anaerobic digester facility near Keynsham
Many months ago, CPRE Avon and Bristol submitted a full and carefully reasoned objection to the proposal to build an industrial scale anaerobic digester plant near Keynsham, and well within the Avon Green Belt. Since our original submission, the scheme proposers have commissioned a large amount of supplementary work. This work is all clearly intended to make the scheme more acceptable in the hope that this will help with a favourable planning decision.
Having considered the voluminous additional material (insofar as we are able without access to comparable professional and very expensive expert support), our view is that the additional material changes nothing in our original assessment. In considering these proposals we would urge planning officers and elected members not to confuse operational mitigation with fundamental considerations. Our objection to this scheme remains very strong.
Our fundamental concerns are as follows:
- Green Belt: The site is well within the Green Belt and we can find no “exceptional circumstances” to justify the normal presumption against development of this scale or kind.
- Transport and traffic: We have already pointed out the unacceptable traffic and safety implications of the proposal. However, the new documents, far from alleviating concern, only serve to heighten it.
- Economic viability: We fundamentally disagree with the assertions that only large-scale plants of this kind can be economic. The most effective and environmentally sustainable types of anaerobic digester are those that are relatively small scale, serving local farms as a genuine waste recycling facility and not as a consumer of new agricultural produce.
- Agriculture and food: We believe priority must be given to utilise good agricultural land for domestic food production, not for anaerobic digester material. Not doing so risks exporting carbon footprints to neighbouring authorities.
- Local environment, air quality and amenity: The new documents include extensive assessments and calculations as to the local effects of unpleasant and potentially toxic odour and the impact on quality of life. The technical estimates tend to minimise these. However, CPRE’s experience in other parts of the country is that while these impacts are often claimed as minimal in advance, in practice, local communities find that that post-completion the impacts are much worse.
We strongly urge B&NES to focus on these issues of principle and not to be diverted either by a smokescreen of operational mitigation and detail; or by arguments that are largely “greenwash”. Accepting this application will most likely do severe damage to B&NES reputation as a leading Local Authority in the region when it comes to a serious understanding of climate change.