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‘It would be chaos’ - Wymondham town council votes unanimously against anaerobic digester scheme backed by Norwich City footballer Ryan Bennett

PUBLISHED: 19:57 21 February 2017 | UPDATED: 08:50 22 February 2017

Residents fear historic sites, such as Morley St Botolph church, near Wymondham, would be affected by the visual impact of a 2MW anaerobic digestion plant in the village. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Residents fear historic sites, such as Morley St Botolph church, near Wymondham, would be affected by the visual impact of a 2MW anaerobic digestion plant in the village. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2009

A proposed 2MW anaerobic digestion unit for the rural village of Morley, near Wymondham, was described as “gargantuan” tonight as town councillors unanimously rejected the scheme.

The Morley St Botolph side of the two villages sign; Photo: Bill Smith The Morley St Botolph side of the two villages sign; Photo: Bill Smith

Wymondham town council’s planning committee heard numerous concerns from residents of Morley, Wicklewood and Deopham about the proposal by farmer Richard Long to build the biomass fuelled anaerobic digestion facility on a 5.6 hectare site off Morley Lane.

The application states that it will convert locally sourced biomass - a mixture of maize, beet, rye and vegetable outgrades, farm slurries and grass silage - to biogas, which is then cleaned and treated on site, before being injected directly into the National Gas Grid.

MORE: Norwich City footballer Ryan Bennett urges residents to fight digester plans

But residents feel the scheme is unsuitable for such a rural location served by many single track roads and fear potential contamination of water courses, light pollution, odour and impact on the visual environment and wildlife.

The proposal includes two 15.6m high digester tanks as well as other buildings, a 95m by 50m silage clamp and feed hopper.

The design and access statement says: “The site was selected as it has some natural vegetation screening and enables the plant to be set four metres below the surrounding land and a good distance from houses, minimising possible impacts from any noise and odours.”

But Peter Shuter from Wicklewood said: “There are reports from around the country that when things go wrong they stink and it is likely residents of Wymondham will be affected as well.”

Kate Thacker, who only moved to Wicklewood this week and found out her new property is 25 metres from the site boundary, said she was concerned about damage to water courses from run off and said the ecological report was “woefully inadequate”.

Corinna Pharoah, who lives in Morley, said highway safety was a “huge concern”. She added: “You cannot put a planning condition on this type of site to route the traffic to avoid the centre of the village.”

Councillor Jack Hornby said he had a number of concerns saying the amount of concrete on the site would be equivalent to 14 acres or nine football pitches.

“It is gargantuan in a village like Morley,” he said. “The road network is standard for a quiet village not for a digester plant plonked in it. It would be chaos.”

He added that views across the Morley valley were comparable to the Tiffey valley and should be treated with the same sensitivity.

“As you come into the village you can probably see four churches including Wymondham Abbey as well as many listed properties,” he said.

He and other councillors also disputed the projected four vehicle movements a day suggested by the applicant as it would be running 24 hours a day.

Councillor Sue Sayer said: “Clearly no-one would want something like this built near them.”

The committee agreed unanimously to object to the scheme and share their concerns with South Norfolk District Council’s planning committee.

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