NDC planning committee reject plans for 1.3MW anaerobic digester after previously deferring a decision on two occasions

PLANS for an anaerobic digester ‘the size of three Wembley football pitches’ on a South Molton farm have been rejected at the third time of asking.

The controversial plans for Great Hele Farm, which councillors had already considered in May and June, were eventually rejected on Wednesday as members of North Devon Council’s planning committee felt the development would compromise the farm’s current operation.

The proposal, described by dissenters as a large scale ‘gas works’, would see farm waste turned into electricity for on-site and national grid use through a 1.3MW digester.

But concerns were raised that in order to meet that level of power output, further materials would need to be grown on site or imported.

A number of local residents, several of whom had spoken at previous meetings, spoke against the plans, which agent David Manley claimed would produce enough electricity to power 2,500 South Molton homes.

Councillor Richard Edgell said: “AD of waste is laudable and desirable.

“What is not desirable is the fact that so many food crops will be used here.

“Only just over 20 per cent of the input is going to be waste; the other 18,500 tons needed to run the digester is going to be food.”

Cllr Joe Tucker said: “The more I think about it, I think it is absolutely crazy to start putting gas factories in the middle of the countryside.

“Once you start doing this on this type of land, where’s it all going to end?”

Members ultimately voted unanimously to oppose the development.