December 12 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Thousands of pounds worth of Norfolk-grown crops could be turned into energy for 3,000 homes each year if a biomass plant is given the go-ahead.
If approved by Broadland District Council, the £6m development would be built on part of the former Second World War airfield in Oulton Street, near Aylsham, owned by farmer Michael Harrold.
The proposal has been submitted by Buckinghamshire-based Black Bridge Energy and if full planning permission was granted the plant would be managed by Future Biogas, from Guildford, which runs two biomass sites in Taverham.
Villagers have raised concerns about the amount of lorries with biomass crops travelling through Oulton Street after the development has been built.
Philipp Lukas, managing director of Future Biogas, said: “We are not interested in going through the village because it is inconvenient, we don’t want to upset people and it is unnecessary.”
He added the 30,000 tonnes of maize, grasses and rye needed each year for plant would be grown locally by members of the Aylsham Growers farmers’ co-operative.
Mr Lukas said between four and six tractor loads would be delivered to the site each day for about three months of the year, during the main harvest period, but a legal document would be signed so all vehicles could only access the plant via the B1149 Norwich to Holt road.
The development would be built on eight acres and would include three eight metre high tanks.
It would function on a 24/7 basis and create methane gas which would be turned into electricity on site by a generator before going into the National Grid.
Mr Lukas said: “There is plenty of evidence out there that we need to be diversifying our sources of energy and using our local farmers. We have a few advantages over wind and solar energy. It makes electricity all day and all night. It is not intermittent like wind power. Biomass provides low CO2 energy which is reliable.”
He added the site would provide the equivalent of two full-time and one part-time job and would benefit the rural economy through the production of maize, which would boost crop rotation.
The plant will not be close to homes; will have natural screening through trees and hedgerow and will not give off any noise or smell, according to Mr Lukas.
Mr Harrold, a second generation farmer, said: “Other than the physical presence, biomass sites don’t impinge on the landscape.”
The application was discussed at an Oulton Parish Council meeting late last month.
Parish councillor Sam Booker said: “It is quite a big structure but it would be on the airfield. I don’t think people would be able to see it from the road. The main concern is the traffic coming through the village.”
The council has until September 25 to make a representation to Broadland and will discuss it at a public meeting on September 5 at 8pm.
A decision on the proposal is expected in early October and the 11-month building period could start next year.