Fengrain win the battle to build an anaerobic digester at Wimblington

Fengrain demonstration by Wimblington residents PHOTO: Rob Morris

Fengrain demonstration by Wimblington residents PHOTO: Rob Morris - Credit: Archant

A community group fighting to stop an anaerobic digester in Wimblington has been dealt the crushing news that the battle is over and Fengrain has won.

Residents who, for the past two years and seven months, have raised more than £15,000 to fight strong objections to the crop-fed anaerobic digester said they “sadly learnt that the High Court judge has ruled out their case.”

Angela Johnson of Wimblington Against the Anaerobic Digester (WAAD), said: “The main reason our chances dropped from 70 per cent to less than 50 per cent was due to Fenland District Council planning department helping the applicant in making changes to ‘conditions’ applied to their planning application.

“These amendments were made within 48 hours of a ‘non-material planning application’ being registered with Fenland District Council, the draft decision and decision completed by senior members of the planning department.

“This was done purely because it was raised by our barrister in our statement of facts and grounds which, as defendants, both Fengrain and Fenland District Council received.

“Throughout the two planning applications, appeals and the high court action, local residents, surrounding communities, local councillors and members of the planning committee have strongly objected to this anaerobic digester, which will be using 45,000 tonnes of purposely grown food crop as waste in order to created methane gas.

“This planning application has not been seen out on a fair playing field and it has been a constant uphill battle for all those that objected with absolutely no advice, help or involvement from our own council.”

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She said that Fengrain was allowed to make constant changes, amendments, retractions and alterations throughout.

He said: “Our planning department have been most efficient in finding any loop hole available for this unwanted planning application to go through.”

She added that campaigners remained: “United in our belief that this anaerobic digester is being built in the wrong place and will be of no benefit to the Fens, the local communities or surrounding area.

“Families will be paying on their energy bills to help pay those subsidies given to the co-operatives that run anaerobic digesters.

“One positive that was highlighted at the meeting was that Government policy is possibly about to change.

“The Government, the Environmental Agency and DEFRA are against anaerobic digesters that are run purely on purposely grown feed crops, they are stating that the plant has to produce gas from at least 50 per cent of waste produce.

“Fengrain’s proposed site will not be doing this and will be unable to use waste as it is too close to local homes and businesses.

“So not only have we cost Fengrain two years and seven months loss of revenue, we will have also cost them on loss of grants and subsidies so the fight was worth the effort.”

And she pledged that WAAD will remain vigilant.

“When the process starts we will ensure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed, there are 30 conditions that have to be met both before, during and after the plant is constructed and each and every one will have to be followed to the letter.

“If our planning department are happy to assist the applicants of this anaerobic digester to such an extent that they can put through a planning amendment within 48 hours then sadly it is imperative that we watch carefully how this monstrosity evolves.

“People only have to look at the anaerobic digester that is growing along the A142 road to Mepal and the one at Westry where work is still going on.

“Well done and congratulations to those that have stood united against this obtrusive, monolithic monstrosity that we do not want in the residential village of Wimblington.

“Fengrain and its co-operative of 900 farmers need to respect their neighbours, the local residents, the surrounding communities, our local councillors and the members of our planning committee who do not want this built.”

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