Prism Planning has secured a positive end to a long running saga over 2 proposed wind turbines in County Durham. The application, on land near to Fishburn International Airport, had been the subject of concerns from Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) over the potential impact of the turbines on the operation of their air traffic control radar.
Over several years various attempts were made to resolve the problems at DTVA which also affected several other schemes and projects around the County. During this time, wind power also fell out of favour with the current government who have introduced a series of obstacles across the commercial and planning worlds to try and prevent on shore wind power from coming forward.
Notwithstanding those obstacles, Durham County Council agreed with Prism that this scheme was one of the few remaining proposals that involved proposed turbines being located in the right area and recommended that consent be granted. Our Managing Director spoke at the planning meeting and after a long debate, the committee voted in favour of the scheme, to the surprise and relief of our clients!
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.
Public Consultation on a major new biomass plant got under way this week with members of the public having the chance to attend consultation events at The Forum in Billingham and Port Clarences Community Centre. The new power station will be fuelled by waste wood and will be located on land adjacent to Koppers, opposite the Riverside Stadium on the North Bank of the Tees.
The planning application for the plant will be submitted to Stockton Council early in the New Year and the consultation exercise will run until 3rd January. Anyone wanting to view the exhibition on line can go to; http://www.resultscommunications.co.uk/consultations/01%20Teesside%20Renewable%20Energy%20Plant_031213.pdf
Prism Planning are coordinating a multidisciplinary team of development professionals to ensure that the planning application is both comprehensive and easily understood.
Watch this space for more exiting news of this £160 million project.
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.
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.
Planning permission has just been granted by Hambleton District Council for new vertical access wind turbines at the site of AMR Autos near Great Ayton. The garage already have outstanding green credentials through installing LPG systems to cars and generate a lot of their own power needs from Photo Voltaic panels on the roof. The two new turbines will help out on the windier winter days.
The turbines aren’t your average windmills that give rise to so much controversy. They are elegant horizontal machines that are near silent in their operation and are ideally suited to residential areas. Indeed avid followers of the Olympics will have seen them turning away in the main Olympic park looking more like artistic sculptures than pieces of technical wizardry.
Its hoped that these machines will help gain more widespread acceptance than their big brother counterparts and allow small wind turbine generation to become more familiar and common place.