Picture Gallery: Villagers’ fears over Blo Norton pig slurry generator
19:36 04 September 2012
Residents of a south Norfolk village have spoken of their fears plans to build an energy plant near their homes will lead to more lorries and noise disturbing the tranquil rural setting.
Over 20 Blo Norton villagers have expressed concerns developer Michael Beard’s plans to build an anaerobic digestion plant on his land at Willow Farm in Clay Hall Lane would lead to an increase in the number of large tractor trailers using narrow village lanes, measuring no more than 2.4m wide, to ferry pig slurry to power the plant’s generator.
Their other worry was that they would be disturbed by noise from the generator, which will produce 500kw/h of electricity, enough to power 800 homes 24 hours a day.
John Barnet-Lamb, chairman of Blo Norton Parish Council, said many of the roads leading to the site were unstable with grass growing down the middle and water pipes running underneath which could fracture under the weight of passing tractors.
He added there were no passing places on the lanes for vehicles and said villagers would be affected by the noise from the generator, which was surrounded by open fields with no natural barrier to prevent the sound escaping.
He quoted the applicant as having said his farm would produce the 25,000 tons of slurry a year needed to power the plant, but said the pigs at Willow Farm would only produce 8,212 tons of slurry a year, leaving a shortfall of 17,720 tons which would have to be met by outside deliveries, bringing more tractors to the village.
“They are going to blight this village with a constant noise and the only way residents are going to escape this noise is by either moving away or dying,” Mr Barnet-Lamb said.
Fellow villager and parish councillor Mike Bristow, who lives in Thelnetham Road, shared many of Mr Barnet-Lamb’s concerns, adding: “The road system is completely unsuitable for the plant. The roads are too narrow and the grass is being eroded and that is going to happen all the way along, including in front of peoples’ properties.”
He added developers building a new housing estate would normally have to provide funding for road improvements if needed and felt the shame should be applied to Mr Beard’s plans.
Mary Feakes, chairman of neighbouring Garboldisham Parish Council, said she too was concerned about the road infrastructure, which could affect her village.
However, Alex Beard, the applicant’s son who runs Willow Farm, said the figures quoted by the objectors related to pig slurry alone, but other waste products on the farm, including straw and rainwater, would also be used to increase the tonnage.
Only a small amount of fodder beet, which is a cross between sugar beet and a mangold, would have to be brought in from outside to feed the pigs, he added.
As far as noise was concerned, he said the noisiest parts of the plant would be positioned furthest away from neighbouring houses with straw bales in between to reduce the amount of sound escaping.
Pig slurry from the neighbouring farm will be decomposed in six airtight processing tanks buried under the ground and the methane and CO2 gases produced will power the generator above ground level, which will then supply electricity to the national grid.
The waste slurry left behind after decomposition will then be transported to nearby farms for use as fertiliser.
The farm will receive about £800,000 a year from a government feed-in tariff of 13.7p per KW provided for the national grid from the half acre plant, which would help prevent pollution by using harmful greenhouse gases that would have escaped into the atmosphere.
Mr Beard said the plant was more reliable than other sources of renewable energy, such as wind farms and solar panels and would supply electricity 24 hours a day.
He added: “We based the size of the plant by what we actually produce on the farm. We judged it by the amount of pig slurry.”