B&NES Council to take enforcement action over illegal hill

Bath & North East Somerset Council is to take enforcement action against the six-metre hill created unlawfully at the site near Keynsham which has been earmarked for a giant anaerobic digester plant.

The council informed the group Protect Our Keynsham Environment (POKE) of its intention last week.

POKE is at the forefront of the fight against the anerobic digester (AD) at the old Queen Charlton Quarry. Developer Resourceful Energy Anaerobic Limited (REAL) is appealing after the council’s planning committee refused the waste-to-power plant in March.

REAL wants to increase capacity at the site from the previously approved 25,000 tonnes of organic materials or feedstocks per year to 92,000 tonnes.

More than 800 people objected and the council refused the scheme on the grounds that it is not a suitable site for such a large development, would harm road safety and the road network and would be inappropriate development in the Green Belt as well as harming the openness of the Green Belt because of land raising. It would also harm protected species, vulnerable people in terms of noise and air quality and could impact Queen Charlton’s proposed ‘liveable neighbourhood’ scheme.

POKE has been holding a series of public meetings to garner support to fight the appeal at the three-week inquiry in October, and that its team of experts will be “filling in gaps” that that the council has missed.

POKE says it needs at least £20,000 to pay for its campaign which includes hiring a planning consultant, transport consultant, barrister and anaerobic digestion expert.

Speaking at the public meeting in Whitchurch Village last Thursday, POKE’s planning consultant Rob Duff said he had heard the previous day from the council’s planning officer about the intended enforcement action against the land raising. POKE has been calling for enforcement for several years and Mr Duff called it a “great step forward” which would greatly strengthen their case at appeal.

POKE says there is no need for the AD site as there are already numerous ones in the region and crops (maize) would have to be grown and brought in specifically to feed it.

Mr Duff said that POKE’s AD expert Dr Leslie Keith Gornall has flagged up design flaws with REAL’s scheme, in particular that REAL has not added in water to its proposed operations. Mr Duff said REAL may be able to extract it on site but had not presented any evidence it could do that or whether water tankers would need to come in daily.

Mr Duff said that as part of the inquiry there will be a round-table session where local people can tell the inspector how the AD scheme will affect them, for example, the odour, bioaerosols, noise, harm from traffic movements and harm to the Green Belt.

REAL says the development will generate 19,200 HGV trips a year (76 a day), over half of them through Whitchurch Village. POKE says it will be 28,500 (112 a day). During the harvest period (eight weeks) REAL says there will be on average 83 trips per day but POKE says it will be 196.

The applicant’s traffic management plan requires that all HGVs travelling to and from the site go via Charlton Road/Woollard Lane, to the junction with the A37 but POKE says there is every chance that some would abuse the Charlton Road weight restriction and drive through Keynsham.

Find out more at https://protectourkeynshamenvironment.wordpress.com/