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Proposals for green energy gas plant near Haverhill are defended by Acorn Bioenergy following criticism





A company that wants to build a biomethane plant on 14-acres of land just outside Haverhill has spoken out in a bid to allay the fears of people living nearby that it will create unpleasant smells and traffic problems.

Acorn Bioenergy wants to create an anaerobic digestion plant on land currently occupied by Spring Grove Farm, owned by the Thurlow Estate and situated next to the A1307 just outside both Haverhill and Withersfield.

The six-hectare plant would be used to convert farming waste such as rye, oat, maize and grass sileage, straw and poultry litter into gas for heating and transport.

Acorn Bioenergy hopes to create anaerobic digestion plant at Spring Grove Farm, just outside Haverhill. Picture: Richard Marsham
Acorn Bioenergy hopes to create anaerobic digestion plant at Spring Grove Farm, just outside Haverhill. Picture: Richard Marsham

The feedstock would be converted inside five dome-shaped digesters, painted green to limit any visual impact.

The biogas created will then be refined into biomethane and transported and injected into the national grid system.

But the proposal has been widely criticised on local social media and concerns raised that it will result in a stink that will drift across Haverhill and other areas.

Spring Grove Farm in Withersfield could become a n aerobic digestion plant. Picture: Richard Marsham
Spring Grove Farm in Withersfield could become a n aerobic digestion plant. Picture: Richard Marsham

Neville Haylock lives at Hanchett Hall and his land is adjacent to the site for the proposed gas conversion plant.

Mr Haylock, 85, said: “I'm fed up with people thinking its going to be on my land, but it’s not my land at all.

“It can go up to eight miles, the smell.

“They say they will try to reduce the smell to the minimum but what is the minimum, it’s ridiculous.

Land at Spring Grove Farm.Picture: Richard Marsham
Land at Spring Grove Farm.Picture: Richard Marsham

“It’s just unbelievable, it really is, and there is going to be so much traffic, there really is.”

Similar concerns about the proposal have also been raised by Withersfield Parish Council.

Cllr Terry Rich, chairman, said: “The parish council has raised a number of concerns with the Thurlow Estate and it is waiting to hear back.”

Those concerns, he added, centred on the potential smell created by the plant, a rise in HGV and vehicle movements in the village and on the A1307 and an increased flood risk for the area.

A spokesman for Acorn Bioenergy said: “We understand people have concerns about potential odour created by the plant. This plant is not a food waste or sewage plant.

“This AD plant is based on agricultural crops and residues which do not suffer from odour issues.

“To become operational, this AD plant will require a permit from the Environment Agency (EA).

“One of the conditions of having an EA permit is that we will have to produce an odour management plan, with designed-in mitigation measures, which require us to monitor odour daily and ensure no impact on nearby properties.

“If we do not comply with this, the EA will be able to stop us operating. The storage facilities will be fully enclosed in line with latest EA regulations.

“In terms of HGV movements on the A1307 we are only proposing three HGV trips per day, two to collect the biomethane and one for the CO2. In total there will be 24 movements per day for the plant.

“For reference 17,973 vehicles bypass the A1307 per day.

“Hence this would account for 0.13 per cent of total traffic movements per day. Furthermore, movement of these agricultural commodities already contribute to existing traffic on the local road network.

“The plant itself will not impact upon potential flooding in the area.

“Moreover the plant is designed in a concrete bund, to ensure there is no leakage. We aim to submit a planning application to West Suffolk Council in October.”

The spokesman went on to emphasise the benefits of the plant.

He said: “It will produce enough biomethane, a green gas, to heat 7,000 homes and provide fuel for 270 HGVs, resulting in a yearly saving of 26,400 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is comparable to taking 17,000 cars off the road or planting 1 million trees.

“This will also contribute to securing the UK’s energy supply and help over the medium to long term to bring down energy bills.

“The plant will also produce digestate, a natural fertiliser which is much better for farms than carbon-intensive mineral fertilisers, along with CO2, which is currently in short supply due to closure of major CO2 plants in the UK.”

The plant would also provide jobs and give farmers a guaranteed income for their break crops and agricultural waste, he added.