Render-plant campaigners fly to Belgium

Campaigners against a mid-Norfolk rendering plant yesterday travelled to Belgium to begin a fact-finding trip to assess the impact of a unit similar to one proposed in Great Witchingham.

Campaigners against a mid-Norfolk rendering plant yesterday travelled to Belgium to begin a fact-finding trip to assess the impact of a unit similar to one proposed in Great Witchingham.

Kevin Francis and Roy Church, of Great Witchingham Parish Council, are spending two days in Olen, a town near Antwerp, to look at the effect of the plant run by Verlirend.

The company uses a Tremesa Oxidiser System to abate odour and this is thought to be similar to what is proposed for Banham Compost's site at Clay Hall Farm.

The Great Witchingham unit will be the first in the UK to use the system, although it is used by a considerable number of companies throughout Europe.

Barry Richardson, a director of Banham Poultry Ltd, said the company was happy that the councillors were taking the trip and added that the company had already offered to arrange a visit for them to a plant that was similar to what is proposed at Clay Hall Farm. He said that company had been doing everything it could to allay protesters' fears about the plant and answer their questions.

Banham Compost, which is part of the Banham Poultry group, wants to build a plant that would process 1,500 tonnes of fallen stock and inedible meat each week at Clay Hall Farm.

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Protesters fear it would create unpleasant odours as well as have a damaging impact on the Wensum Valley, and have accused the company of starting work on the two-unit plant without planning permission.

Banham Compost has denied these claims and insists it operates according to the law and terms of an existing planning consent.

Norfolk County Council is also considering a new application by Banham for a twin-unit rendering plant at Clay Hall Farm.

Mr Francis said: "We are approaching our trip to Belgium with an open mind.

"Yes, we passionately believe that Clay Hall Farm is the wrong place to build this plant but we are going to Belgium to be objective about the whole issue.

"We want to see this plant for ourselves and to talk to the local community about whether they have had any problems."

Mr Francis said they would meet members of the town council in Olen as well as speak to local people and businesses about the impact the plant has had on their lives.

They also plan to look at the location of the site and its surrounding road network. They will look at the perimeter of the plant but unfortunately will not be able to have a guided tour of the site as their contact at Verlirend is away.

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