Keynsham Town Council opposes biogas plant

April 01 2021
Town council opposes biogas plant

Plans to convert food and farming waste into power at a green-belt site in Keynsham are being opposed by the town council.

Resourceful Energy Anaerobic Ltd (REAL) wants to build an anaerobic digester plant at the former Queen Charlton Quarry in Charlton Field Lane.

Bath and North East Somerset Council, which will decide on the planning application, has received hundreds of comments objecting to the proposals.

And in its consultation response to B&NES, Keynsham Town Council explained why its planning and development committee had resolved to object to the plans.

It is the third attempt to create a plant at the site – the previous ones being in 2014 and 2019 – and the town council said it had been in “support of a facility in principle” in the past.

But it said that “this principle seems to have been broadened and extended beyond a reasonable level.”

The council said it was concerned about the “adverse visual impact on the green belt” and that there were “profound highways issues” to consider.

Its response stated: “It appears that the applicant has failed to factor in the movement of vehicles leaving the site with products, nor have calculations of actual HGV movements generally and during harvest time been recorded accurately.”

The town council reiterated the comments of B&NES Council’s transportation and highways department that “the applicant has failed to demonstrate that satisfactory access to the public highway can be achieved.

“Highways are of the view that without further mitigation measures the development is likely to result in the introduction of HGVs on unsuitable roads.”

The town council said “the impact that this will have on the route of HGVs through and around Keynsham is a factor of paramount importance in any decision.”

It is also concerned that the plant’s processes would create run-off surface water on nearby roads, making them hazardous, especially in the winter.

The town council feared that nearby residents would be affected by smells, dust and the noise of vehicles, particularly at harvest time with the delivery of maize used in the process.

“In the past, local residents have already experienced the effect of this when maize was delivered to the site, when it was in operation previously, with deliveries being made late into the night. Mitigation of these factors have not been addressed within the application.”

The town council also said that site maintenance had not been addressed sufficiently.

“The council has concerns the safety of the community of Keynsham may be at risk.”

Whitchurch Village Action Group has also objected.

It said: “The Charlton Road is unsuitable for the immense volume of HGV lorries required for the running of this huge complex, rendering the use of Charlton Road for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, cars users as dangerous. Quality of life for local residents will be adversely affected.”

More than 600 comments objecting to the scheme have been lodged with B&NES, as well as 10 in support. Those in favour of the scheme say the plant would help reduce consumption of fossil fuels and create jobs.

If approved, the plant would process 92,000 tonnes of crops and food waste a year to produce biogas, to generate electricity and supply the local grid.

Permission for a plant that would have processed 25,000 tonnes a year was originally granted in 2014 but never put into action after the then owners, Resourceful Earth Ltd, went into administration.

Revised plans submitted in 2019 by Resourceful Earth Anaerobic Ltd were later withdrawn after neighbours said the smell from the site, historically used for composting, made them feel “physically sick”.