Controversial biogas plant proposals approved at Kenninghall

Campaigners have vowed to launch a judicial review after controversial plans to build a biogas renewable energy plant near their homes were approved.

Stephen Gordon, chairman of Kenninghall Parish Council, announced that objectors would not give up their 18-month fight following the decision by Breckland Council's planning committee yesterday.

About 30 residents from the south Norfolk village, near Diss, attended the meeting with placards and protest banners.

Greenshoots Energy Ltd had applied to build an anaerobic digestion unit and associated storage on land off Garboldisham Road, which would be fuelled with locally grown maize, poultry litter and cattle slurry. The electricity created would be transferred to the National Grid.

A separate application was also lodged to locate a combined heat and power (CHP) plant just over half a mile away at Crown Milling, off Heath Road, which would use the waste heat generated by the energy plant. The two sites would be connected by an underground gas pipe.

Both applications had been recommended for approval despite opposition from the parish council, North Lopham Parish Council and about 500 nearby residents who had signed a petition claiming the development would be a visible intrusion in the landscape, a noise nuisance and would generate odours.

Mr Gordon claimed that reports into the applications' potential noise were 'inadequate and inaccurate', while fellow parish councillor Teeny Scott Barber said that no design details had been submitted to show how the applicants intended to attenuate any excess noise.

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William Nunn, leader of Breckland Council who represents Kenninghall, was also concerned that planning conditions would be ineffective at controlling noise.

'I've been a councillor for 17 years and I know how hard it is for the authority to influence on noise once something this built and functional,' he said.

Matthew Sibley, a member of Breckland Youth Council who lives in Kenninghall, argued that the development would 'detract from the well-being' of villagers and raised concerns about potential increases in traffic.

Nearby resident Barbara Burridge added: 'It will dominate a beautiful and historic landscape and surely affect our quality of life.'

But James Alston, who runs Greenshoots Energy Ltd with fellow farmer Robert Gooderham, said the countryside had 'changed dramatically' and creating anaerobic digestors gave dairy farmers a helping hand in trying to maintain the viability of their industry.

He added: 'I am totally confident this is a project for the future, not just for the generation here today, but for future generations as our population increases and energy resources decrease.'

Neither the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency or Norfolk County Council's highways department had raised objections.

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