All posts in anaerobic digestion

A special meeting of Ryedale Planning Committee last night approved a planning application Prism Planning submitted to improve the efficiency of the Anaerobic Digestion plant under construction at Sand Hutton to enable it to inject additional biogas into the local network. There was strong local interest in the application, following the recent successful appeal submitted by Prism and this resulted in a special meeting being convened, solely to consider this proposal. Following the initial appeal, technical work carried out with the network operator established a greater capacity in the local gas network than previously established. The approved plant would be able to bridge the gap with only a modest increase in the feedstock going in. By a majority vote, the committee accepted the officer’s recommendation to support the scheme, despite concerns being expressed by some local residents. The application we presented clearly put forward the argument that our client was entitled to grow the extra crop on the farm and that there would be no increase in smell or noises as a result of the proposal. The crop would not need to go onto the local highway network so there were no traffic implications. It’s slightly bizarre that some local residents remained implacably opposed to the idea of generating renewable energy on their doorstep and some very misleading allegations about the possible impacts of the development were put forward in an effort to try to mislead the planning committee. Fortunately, the submission we had put forward clearly highlighted the proper planning considerations and the planning committee, after due deliberation, gave consent for the amendment.
Durham Planning Committee agreed to grant permission for another Anaerobic Digestion plant at the site of a dairy farm outside Sedgefield. The scheme will deliver 500kw of electricity into the national grid, processing the waste manure from the 600+ dairy herd on the site. The scheme was supported by officers who, at our instigation, had visited other AD schemes promoted by Prism already in operation. These visits had proved that the feared noise and odour, cited by residents as reasons to refuse the scheme, was simply not in evidence. Interestingly, during the debate in the Council Chamber, reference was made to the AD scheme at High Hedley, also submitted to the Council by Prism some years before and initially opposed by the Council. The Council’s decision was overturned at appeal and Prism got a full award of costs against the Council. The member who led the opposition to that scheme had recently passed by the site and advised the committee that it was a good scheme and he was wrong to have initially opposed it! This scheme is the 12thAD scheme that Prism have successfully obtained planning permission for, establishing ourselves as the market leaders in promoting this type of specialist renewable energy. We have several applications running with various local authorities across the country and hope to continue our success record of partnering with JFS and Associates to deliver green electricity and gas.

At Prism we are celebrating our latest anaerobic digestion success after planning consent was granted by Hambleton District Council, who approved an on-farm anaerobic digestion facility at New Mill Farm.

This is a renewable energy project primarily using fertiliser to produce both green energy and a nutrient rich, odourless fertiliser.  Our experience continues to show that the industry is regarded as a new, innovative form of development met with some trepidation from Planning Authorities and local communities.  As a result a great deal of reassurance is required to persuade people that they are safe and won’t impact on their lives.  That said, it is worthwhile noting that in our experience Hambleton District Council is probably the local planning authority most open to considering on farm anaerobic digestion schemes.

With this new decision, Prism have shown skills, knowledge and more importantly, experience of progressing a variety of anaerobic digestion schemes through the planning system, of varying scales and complexities from simple on-farm systems through to major food processing facilities. We have now also built up a formidable range of contacts in the AD technology and financial sector so that anybody thinking of undertaking anaerobic digestion couldn’t hope to meet a more experienced and well-positioned team.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are considering some form of AD project.

Prism Planning and JFS & Associates are celebrating after getting planning permission for a 1.5MW Anaerobic Digester to process food waste from nearby Leeming Bar. The consent was granted by North Yorkshire County Council at their planning meeting on 25th March. The decision marked the end of a long running application which saw the layout and configuration of the site redesigned to prevent interference with the radar emissions from RAF Leeming whose main runway passes close to the site. The plant will process around 50,000 tonnes of food waste produced by nearby food and drink businesses with the material being brought to the site via tankers. This is the 8th anaerobic digestion scheme that Prism have obtained consent for in the last couple of years, making us one of the country’s leading practitioners and acknowledged experts in this field.
A decision this week by Ryedale District Council to approve an on-farm anaerobic digestion facility at Wray House Farm, brings the total number of anaerobic digestion schemes that Prism have successfully obtained planning permission for, to seven. This is a fascinating renewable energy project with tremendously green credentials. However our experience shows that they are still regarded as a very new and innovative form of development with most Planning Authorities and local communities and a great deal of reassurance is required to persuade people that they are safe and won’t impact on their lives. With this new decision, it shows that Prism have got the skills, knowledge and more importantly, the experience of progressing anaerobic digestion schemes through the planning system, of varying scales and complexities from simple on-farm systems through to major food processing facilities. We have now also built up a formidable range of contacts in the AD technology and financial sector so that anybody thinking of undertaking anaerobic digestion couldn’t hope to meet a more experienced and well-positioned team. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are considering some form of AD project.
Prism had a busy day at a North Yorkshire Planning Committee with two of our applications for new Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants and an intensive livestock building on the agenda in the same afternoon. We had our work cut out with strong local objection to two of the proposals but fortunately members were persuaded by the strength of our arguments and granted planning permission. The success means that we have now successfully obtained permission for no less than 5 AD plants this year which must be something of a record. We aren’t stopping there however and have an application lodged for another scheme due to be considered in December and have two more on the drawing board. We hope that we will be able to continue our run of success with this most sustainable of renewable energy schemes. It’s clear that we still have a great deal of work to do in educating and persuading the public of the benefits of AD and we will continue to work hard on this. It will hopefully be made a little easier by one of our first schemes at Howla Hay, Guisborough nearing completion. It’s always helpful to be able to show a real life example of an operational plant and there haven’t been too many farm scale schemes built locally in North Yorkshire and County Durham.
A Planning Inspector has just overturned a decision by Durham County Council and granted planning permission for a new 500KW anaerobic digestion (AD) plant on a farm at East Hedleyhope, Bishop Auckland. The proposed plant and associated combined heat and power plant would provide electricity and heat out of digesting farmyard manure and other organic wastes. The case establishes Prism as one of the leading planning consultancies with expertise and in depth knowledge of the AD process. Prisms involvement was secured by Paul Palmer of CH4 Sense, a leading provider of AD services ch4sense.co.uk. The application was submitted to Durham County Council in June 2012 and although initially supported by officers, was refused by the planning committee in November 2012 with members disagreeing with officer’s assessment of the case. Members were concerned over the visual impact, odour, noise and the overall sustainability of the project. The decision of the Council was taken to appeal and an Informal Hearing took place in April 2013. In allowing the appeal, the Planning Inspector noted that the Council had not considered the National Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and considered that the Council’s policy base carried very little weight, being written well before the publication of the National Strategy in 2011. The Inspector considered that the tanks, although large in scale, would present itself as components of an existing farm and would have been properly screened by the landscape belt proposed in the application. In looking at the noise nuisance, he noted that the scheme did not breach World Health Organisation guidelines for night time noise and in looking at the odour decided this was something which would be properly regulated by the Environment Agency in due course. He considered that the Planning Authority were wrong in trying to adopt a precautionary stance in assuming that matters might go wrong. He went on to consider that this was a highly sustainable location for this type of development and was consistent with the National Anaerobic Digestion Strategy published by the government. He criticised the Council for seeking to locate such developments in existing industrial areas noting that certain types of AD facility would require large amounts of land to operate and they could not be expected to locate in general industrial areas to apply the presumption on favour of sustainable development established in the National Policy Framework for Planning and granted consent. Unusually, he went on to allow a full claim for costs against the Council noting that the members had departed from the professional advice of their officers without proper grounds. He was very critical of the Council applying a precautionary principle when advice clearly states that it is not their role in the planning system to do so. He concluded that the Council’s reasons for refusal were not justified or supported by any written or visual evidence and that the Council had put the appellant to the unnecessary cost of preparing evidence for and attending the appeal. Prism, and their client were delighted with the outcome of the appeal, noting that it was a complete vindication of the case they had argued and presented to the Council throughout the planning application process. In particular, Prism had supplied the Council with information covering all the points of concern and had sought to allay fears in these important areas. That this presentation of information was ignored by members is regrettable. However the AD process in the UK is still at a relatively young stage and it is perhaps understandable that fear of the unknown creeps into the decision making process. Hopefully this decision will show clearly that AD is here to stay and are properly considered proposals with well argued evidence should not be refused except on very specific and clear grounds. Prism look forward to working with the Council to get the scheme up and running in the very near future.
An end to farmyard smells? Free energy from manure? If these strap lines seem too good to be true then you’re in good company. Planning Authorities in the region have all had the same initial reaction to the process of Anaerobic Digestion when faced with applications for small processing plants.  Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is the process of fermenting animal manure and any vegetative matter or food wastes inside a sealed vessel to produce methane.  The methane is collected and used to power a generator that produces both electricity and heat.  The electricity is usually pumped back into the grid and if you can use the heat, you might be able to claim renewable heat incentives.

We have obtained permission for two farm based schemes so far, and have two more in the pipeline.  As a concept, it is one of the greenest forms if renewable energy generation and hits a number of government agendas.  Although it is a relatively new technology in the UK, our European cousins have been doing it for years and the technology is well proven and established. It doesn’t take up much space and the buildings and tanks needed are virtually the same as those used on a farm – silage clamps, slurry stores and general purpose buildings. Our first two schemes have both nestled at the feet of the North York Moors National Park so they can be accommodated in sensitive landscapes, if designed properly.

There have been a number of schemes for large scale commercial AD plants that have foundered when it came to securing waste streams and this has led to a number of specialist such as JFS & Associates in Stokesley offering to deliver farm based AD that simply uses waste and crops produced on the farm. Although small scale, such schemes can produce useful returns for the farmer over the life of the plant, delivering heat, power, money and odourless fertiliser produced on site!

Planning Authorities can find schemes novel and often need gently educating as to what it’s all about. As a result of our experiences, we have a solid background in the plant and are well placed to convert a sceptical audience into supporters, whether they are local residents, planning officers or a planning committee. If you are a farmer or in the food waste business, then please give us a call and either Prism or our contacts in the industry will be able to help you take a look at whether AD can help you out.
Well perhaps not just yet but we have certainly taken a major step towards this position this week with a key decision being made by Hambleton Council to grant planning permission for what we think is the first farm based anaerobic digestion facility at Bonnie Hill Farm, Great Broughton.

For those who aren’t quite sure what this involves, farmyard manure along with grass silage and other organic matters is placed in a sealed vessel and allowed to ferment away under controlled conditions. This produces methane which can be used to fuel a generator producing electricity and hot water. After supplying the farms energy needs any spare electricity can be exported back to the Grid and earn the farmer an income. The heat from the generator can usually be used to good advantage –in this case helping to reduce costs in the on-site milk bottling plant. Other uses include warming stock buildings or heating glasshouses to produce cash crops. Once fermented the resultant product, known as ‘digestate’ can be spread upon the land. Its more useful for plant growth and a lot safer than ordinary slurry and has hardly any smell! AD isn’t a new concept and has been used on the continent for many years and the technology is proven. What is different about this project is that it is based upon the farm and uses manure and other crops produced on the farm. This means that there are no transport costs or off site implications for the local road network. From many peoples perspectives it is a lot more attractive than more wind turbines going up in the countryside.

We are delighted to have provided the planning support to such a great idea proposal. The new NPPF places a great deal of emphasis upon such sustainable forms of renewable energy generation.

Because the country isn’t yet very familiar with AD as a general concept, there is a steep learning curve with the detailed issues involved. Our clients, newly established , JFS based at Stokesley have however provided all of the answers and look set to make their mark upon the future of farming. Already there are two other similar projects at the pipeline that JFS have worked upon and farm based AD looks to have major potential for farmers who have livestock units. If it brings and end to the distinctive smells of slurry spreading, it will also get widespread support from the general public as well! If you’re interested in the potential of AD or want to know more about the issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.