Concern raised over work on anaerobic digestion plant on outskirts of village

Aerial view of the Deal Farm site at Bressingham.

Aerial view of the Deal Farm site at Bressingham. - Credit: Loudvfx

Concern has been raised over the construction of an anaerobic digester plant on a village's outskirts, with opponents saying work is being carried out 'without planning permission.'

Sue Butler has expressed her concern about the facility, located on Kenninghall Road in Bressingham, after it was originally approved in 2015.

The resident, who lives near the site, said the plans have "been completely changed without permission" by Deal Farm Biogas Ltd, after development started in 2018, and notified South Norfolk Council about the "breach" in conditions.

But CEO of BioWatt James Lloyd, speaking on behalf of the developers, said the work is within the boundaries approved and is "smaller than originally planned."

Pictures taken by Sue Butler on a single road.

Pictures taken by Sue Butler of vehicles using a single road. - Credit: Sue Butler

Ms Butler said: "The volume of construction traffic coming through our villages has been phenomenal and on roads which were prohibited from being used under those conditions and this still continues despite numerous complaints to the developer and Highways. 

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"This has caused considerable damage to single track roads and the verges are now non-existent. This is before they even start bringing in the feedstock for this plant.

"The developers have been running seven days a week, again despite what was originally passed for operating hours."

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She added it was impacting her family, who have a property nearby, and that vehicles still pass it despite them being "forbidden."

Pictures taken by Sue Butler of vehicles using a single road.

Pictures taken by Sue Butler of vehicles using a single road. - Credit: Sue Butler

"They have had to shut their very successful B&B which they had run for over 12 years due to the noise and heavy traffic", she said.

"They're not building what they were originally, and it's actually bigger than what is stated."

South Norfolk District councillor James Easter also raised his concerns, saying it is a "serious problem" and that "nothing" was being done by SNC's planning department.

James Easter, South Norfolk district councillor.

James Easter, South Norfolk district councillor. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

He added that among the local concerns was traffic movement and the impact on roads.

He said: "We want SNC to stop the construction and assess it properly and make an informed decision over what is being put forward.

"It started off as a small unit and it is completely different to the original plan."

A South Norfolk Council spokesperson said work is "now not being carried out in accordance with the approved plans", and that a planning application was submitted earlier this month to vary the consent in 2015.

They added: "It is now being consulting on to give members of the public an opportunity to make their views known.  

"It would not be appropriate for the council to take enforcement action until this application has been fully considered and determined. 

"Any works that the applicant carries out are at their own risk as should the application be found to be unacceptable and refused then they would be likely to be subject to enforcement action."

Mr Lloyd said developers were aware of local concerns about the plant, which he says will produce renewable biomethane that will be injected into the national gas distribution network, and have been in consultation with Mr Easter and had organised a meeting with local parish councillors in order to hear their concerns.

The CEO said: "Throughout the construction we have closely managed construction traffic, encouraging residents to contact us directly with information on any vehicles not following the signs and road marshals.

"We have immediately followed up any transgression with actions that have resulted in the banning of vehicles from returning to the site.

"The construction work is within the boundaries approved by the 2015 permission and, contrary to rumour, is smaller than originally planned – most notably two digester tanks instead of three, with a smaller total volume and smaller area for crop and manure storage."

He said developers were not seeking to change any other aspect of the original permission but only the layout.

"We acknowledge that work progressing on site differs from that previously approved, but we have made an application with the advice of South Norfolk Council to regularise this.

"We are committed to being a good neighbour and having a positive involvement with the local community."

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