Sugar beet to be used in AD plant near Chatteris as part of expansion allowed by Fenland Council but criticised by Chatteris Town Council

AD plant near Chatteris where an expansion programme has been agreed. The proposals were objected to

AD plant near Chatteris where an expansion programme has been agreed. The proposals were objected to by Chatteris Town Council but approved by Fenland Council. Picture; PRETORIA ENERGY - Credit: Archant

An anaerobic digester plant build alongside the busy A142 is to be expanded but traffic and extra collection and delivery times could have a damaging effect, says Chatteris Town Council.

Their protests, however, fell on deaf ears after Fenland District Council agreed to allow the AD plant to use sugar beet as well as maize, create a new access and build a new reservoir at Iretons Way between Chatteris and Mepal.

Town councillors complained they were not consulted on the proposed changes and were only alerted to the application by parish councillors at Mepal.

Chatteris Town Council lodged objections to the expansion, claiming it would have "a detrimental effect on the A142 and neighbouring properties including the 1,000 home development planned to the south of the town".

The council said: "It will mean even more traffic on the already congested A142 (with mineral extraction plans also likely to exacerbate the situation) and more frequent disruption throughout the year.

"At present there is a six week period in the autumn when maize is carted to the site when there are extreme problems with tractors holding up traffic and creating potentially lethal conditions by depositing shredded maize (from un-netted trailers) on the road."

The council said by changing this condition to extend from six weeks to nine to ten months of the year for products being carted along the A142 "is totally unacceptable.

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"In addition the smell of rotting sugar beet is horrendous so you will go from a crop which produces little smell to one which produces a smell detectable from many miles.

"As beet has not been used in the past how can the monitoring information report claim this will be within reasonable limits."

The town council said it had also complained repeatedly about mud and debris on the road from tractors carting maize to the site.

However Fenland Council felt the changes were intended to "regularise the existing operation" and the AD plant is a success with gas being exported direct to the National Grid.

Neither Witcham nor Mepal parish councils raised any concerns about the application.

The AD plant was given permission in 2014 and over the following four years the operators found some changes were needed, said a report to Fenland councillors.

"These changes have occurred due to the evolution of technology and industry best practice," concluded the report.

Tough conditions still apply to the operators including a clause which insists they must take measures "to suppress odour arising from the operations hereby approved. If control measures are found to be inadequate, causal operations shall cease until additional measures are provided and demonstrated to be adequate to limit and control the cause(s) of concern."