Biogas plant plan for former airfield

PLANS for a multi-million pound renewable energy development near Beccles have been unveiled.

BioCore Environmental Ltd and Sotterley Estate are seeking planning permission for a biogas plant on land at the former Ellough Airfield.

The anaerobic digestion plant is designed to produce 10 million cubic metres of biogas a year and would occupy an area of seven acres, according to documents submitted to Waveney District Council.

It would use agricultural crops such as maize to produce electricity or gas which would be fed into the National Grid. The crops would be grown by Sotterley Estate and local supplying farms, mostly within a 10-mile radius.

The scheme’s proponents say the plant will be a “valuable source of renewable energy” and will help to meet the government’s renewable energy goals.

They say it would process about 35,000 tonnes of specially grown crops each year to produce 2 megawatts of electricity for the grid (or the equivalent as methane gas), enough energy for about 2,000 houses.

Andrew Kendall, one of those behind the project, described it as a “major renewable energy development” and said it had the potential to unlock further investment at Ellough.

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“There is a shortage of power at Ellough and there is a need for electricity at Ellough,” he said.

“That is one of the reasons the industrial park is not expanding. This could help to free up more of the land for development.”

A report to planners outlines proposals for three biogas domes, three digestate storage tanks, gas to grid equipment and two combined heat and power engines.

Mr Kendall said the maximum height of the domes would be 12m and that extensive landscaping is planned.

He said the scheme would provide two full-time jobs with further employment during construction and associated supply services thereafter.

But concerns have been raised by local people about issues such as noise, traffic and bad odours.

Resident Barry King said: “Residents in the Worlingham area are rightly concerned about the proposed building of an anaerobic digestion plant.

“The potential for noise pollution caused by massive compressors and heavy traffic accessing the site is immense with no clear indication in the planning proposal of restrictions to daily usage times. The potential for odours being transmitted to residential areas is significant.

“Residents in Hulver Street already experience a high volume of heavy goods vehicles through their village as traffic is diverted off the A12 to access the Ellough Industrial area which the proposed new complex is near. Noise, vibration and pollution will directly affect Hulver Street residents.”

Yesterday, Mr Kendall said a worst case scenario would see traffic movements averaging six vehicles per hour over a 10 hour working day only during harvesting from September to November. He said the anaerobic digestion process is totally contained and designed to ensure there are no smells. If electricity is generated on site the generator engine would emit a low hum, not usually audible outside the site boundary.