Controversial Fenland anaerobic digester plan gets green light

Residents of Wimblington protesting about the a AD being built in the village ANL-160609-122429009
Residents of Wimblington protesting about the a AD being built in the village ANL-160609-122429009
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A controversial bid to build an anaerobic digester close to a Fenland village has been given the go-ahead by a government planning inspector.

An initial appeal against Fenland District Council’s decision to block the development near Wimblington was rejected earlier this year.

Residents of Wimblington protesting about the a AD being built in the village ANL-160609-122641009

Residents of Wimblington protesting about the a AD being built in the village ANL-160609-122641009

But a further appeal on a revised proposal, which the authority turned down last December, has now been permitted.

Campaigners against the proposal will meet later this week to discuss their response to the decision.

Arthur Lamb, deputy chairman of Wimblington Against Anaerobic Digesters (WAAD), said: “We’re all very disappointed and very concerned. The local people and the councillors have said no and the inspector has overruled that.”

In his ruling, planning inspector Nick Palmer said the scheme would not have an unacceptable impact on the surrounding area and concerns relating to the effect on nearby homes and roads had been addressed by the new scheme.

He also accepted assessments suggesting the scheme would not lead to excessive levels of traffic or give off unacceptable odours.

He added: “I have concluded that the development would not result in any unacceptable harm. The benefits would however be significant.

“The generation of renewable energy would accord with the environmental dimension of sustainable development.

“The support for farmers and employment would accord with the economic and social dimensions. For these reasons considered as a whole the proposal would be a sustainable form of development.”

The inspector’s report said the council had dropped its road safety objection and concerns relating to noise and smells.

Mr Palmer insisted he had taken public concerns into account on those issues.

But Mr Lamb accused the council of showing a “lack of fight” on the issue.

He said: “It feels like Fenland Council have created this problem for themselves and then not dealt with it.”

The ruling was published around a month after the inspector made a visit to the site.

Protestors gathered at the time to show their opposition to the scheme.

The WAAD committee will meet this Thursday to consider their next moves in the wake of the ruling.

They do have the option of mounting a legal challenge, though no decisions have yet been made.

Mr Lamb said they would also consider holding a public meeting for villagers to have their say on the way forward.

He also demanded that a footpath is installed along Hook Lane if the plant is built, in order to make it safer for walkers.

He said: “We’ve got to stand up for ourselves and say you’ve got to start listening to us.”

A Fenland Council spokesman said: “We’re very disappointed that the Inspector has gone against the Committee’s decision to refuse the application, particularly as the same inspector had refused the company’s appeal on the original proposal.

“However, ultimately it is his decision and we have to accept it.”