Agricultural and Rural, Energy

Large Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Plant in Suffolk. Planning Application Approved

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BARLEY BRIGG BIOGAS PLANT, STRADBROKE, SUFFOLK

This recent planning application project for our Suffolk Planning Consultancy – relates to an AD plant  (anaerobic digestion plant*). This project is located near Stradbroke, Suffolk, and called Barley Brigg Biogas. We are delighted that this case was recently approved after the Section.73 application was discussed at Planning Committee in December 2020.

Our persistence and patience on this green and sustainable energy related project ensured a successful outcome for our very happy client!

BACKGROUND

The plant at Barley Brigg is a recognized and safeguarded site in the Suffolk Minerals & Waste Local Plan; adopted in July 2020.  This plan contains strategic minerals and waste policies and identifies existing and proposed sites for waste development as well as mineral extraction, landfills, incinerators etc.

The existing AD plant was granted planning permission in 2016 and was subject to a range of planning conditions.

One condition, Condition 15 (Waste Capacity and Origins), specifies an inflexible range of feedstocks and tonnages (totalling 15,000t p.a.) and, according to the Council, was originally applied to ensure that waste is treated as close as possible to its source.   This Condition is now costing our client and Suffolk County Council time and staff resources to deal with.

PROPOSAL

As a result of the additional time and resources it was costing them, our client sought our advice for the removal of Condition 15, because it had very strict controls over the weight and type of feedstocks.  (The supply chain can vary and in the future the site may need to use different feedstocks.)

The site also holds a permit from the Environment Agency (EA) which limits the quantity of feedstocks to a maximum of 100t of waste a day (more than 30,000t p.a.), and our client sought to bring the operation in line with this EA permit.

As no material planning harm would arise by removing this condition, our client did not propose it be replaced.

Clearly, doubling the tonnage allowance of the AD plant via Section 73 could have been a significant challenge.

* The anaerobic digestion (AD) plant digests organic waste (including energy crops, sugar beet pulp and apple pulp) inside a closed vessel, which produces methane gas.  The gas is used to generate electricity. Most of the digestate produced will be dried using waste heat generated by plant’s two engines, a process that qualifies for the renewable heat incentive. The dry product is easy to store and will be used as fertiliser for arable crops.

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