As AD (aerobic digester) goes BC (before committee) Wimblington residents ask: Why are you hell bent on ruining our village?

Aerial view of Fengrain

Aerial view of Fengrain - Credit: Archant

Residents raised £3,000 to prepare their attack on controversial proposals by Fengrain who were hoping for ‘second time lucky’ in a bid to build an anaerobic digester at Wimblington.

They employed consultants who have compiled a massive weight of evidence to support their continued opposition – even though Fengrain has moved the proposed digester to a more remote site.

“The village has already reached saturation point in both industrial units and excessive heavy transport,” they claim.

Their document, published on the eve of next Wednesday’s planning committee of Fenland Council, has added support to a campaign against the digester that has included MP Steve Barclay, local councillor Dave Connor, the parish councils of Wimblington and Doddington, and more than 100 residents.

The protestors are hoping their detailed analysis of traffic movements, lack of employment offered by the new digester, noise, light pollution, obnoxious odours and “extensive visual impact destroying our landscape” will win the day.

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However advice to the committee from planning officers suggests that by moving their proposed anaerobic digester plant within the same site, Fengrain has done enough to win approval.

Despite widespread opposition planners believe Fenland District Council can no longer oppose it.

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“It is acknowledged that there is a significant amount of local opposition to the proposal however the submission demonstrates how the application has overcome the previous reason for refusal – visual impact,” says a report to councillors.

“The material considerations raised by the residents have been noted however none are considered to outweigh the compliance with the development plan.”

Fenland District Council Planning Committee is being recommended to approve the application next week.

It has been condemned by both Doddington and Wimblington parish councils and criticised at public meetings. Mr Barclay told Fenland Council he was “dismayed” officers had recommended it for approval. “It defies common sense,” he said.

But at the end of the day, says the MP, there is little he can do “to stop a bad decision from being made”.

Officers insist visual impact was the only reason for its refusal first time round and this had now been overcome.

All other issues had been dealt with “and it would therefore be unreasonable to introduce them as reasons for refusal at this stage.”

Officers say: “Decisions should not be made solely on the basis of the number of representations or signatures on a petition, whether they are for or against a proposal.

“The Localism Act has not changed this. Nor has it changed the advice, namely that local opposition or support for a proposal is not in itself a ground for refusing or granting planning permission unless it is founded on valid planning reasons.”

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