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Crouchland Biogas: is this sustainable development?

Monday, 08 August 2016 06:36

CPRE Sussex is supporting 'Protect Our Rural Environment' (PORE) and voicing concern about the Crouchland Biogas plant in Plaistow, West Sussex.

Although the plant is supported by millions of pounds of subsidies for renewable energy, it is not compliant with environmental and planning laws and highlights failings in our current regulatory systems. Despite repeated pollution events due to management failures and the permanent lack of compliance with the Environment Agency (EA) Permit, the EA has been unable to stop the site operating. Crouchlands has an OPRA rating from the Environment Agency of ‘F’ – the worst score possible.  Three significant pollution events in the last 4 years have killed all aquatic life in several kilometres of waterways. Crouchland Farm has pleaded guilty at Worthing Magistrates Court in relation to the pollution of the River Kird in December 2013. Pollution events in 2015 and 2016 are still being investigated.

The plant was originally created to process waste generated on the farm itself, however over recent years it has started to take waste from other locations. This has led to a significant increase in vehicle movements, particularly large tankers which struggle to turn on the small, rural roads surrounding the site.

Although the site does not have complete planning permission, a national gas company (SGN) have agreed a 20 year partnership. PORE, and the Planning Inspectorate believe that  the site should only be used to process farm waste generated on the site (not importing from a wider area or using animal feed to produce gas) and that the site should be properly managed in accordance with EA permits to prevent future pollution incidents. CPRE Sussex supports this view.

A key question is - should this, the fourth largest biomethane-to-grid gas refinery in Europe - and probably the largest in the UK, be located at Plaistow?

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