Boost for campaigners fighting food waste power plant near Keynsham

The campaign group fighting plans for a large anaerobic digester plant near Keynsham have welcomed the news that they have been granted ‘Rule 6 status’.

The ruling means that Protect Our Keynsham Environment (POKE) are now considered to be a main party at the public inquiry and can cross-examine other parties – but they need to raise funds to cover the cost of employing experts to represent them.

POKE say there is lots of work to be done to prepare for the inquiry but having this status gives them a much stronger case and a much bigger chance of success.

They have warned that thousands of residents in Keynsham and nearby villages will be affected by smells and a surge in traffic on local roads if the development planned by Resourceful Energy Anaerobic Limited (REAL) gets the go-ahead.

“This is a critical time for our community for if we lose the appeal the supersized anaerobic digester facility will be built and our town and villages will change forever, Now is the time to stop the developer once and for all.”

REAL’s planning application for the food waste plant was unanimously rejected by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s planning committee back in March. REAL subsequently lodged an appeal and a three-week public planning inquiry is due to start in October.

POKE held a public meeting in Keynsham on Tuesday of this week to update residents and drum up support, and another one is taking place at Pensford Memorial Hall from 7pm to 8pm next Tuesday (12th July).

Another one is planned on Thursday 28th July at Whitchurch United Reformed Church from 7pm to 8pm.

Kerry Morgan of POKE said: “The public have been brilliant in their support of POKE as we fight to stop this supersized anaerobic digester. Local politicians of all hues have also stepped up to oppose this inappropriate power station in the heart of our irreplaceable Green Belt.

“We have successfully resisted the developer up to now but we are redoubling our efforts in light of the appeal.”

She added: “If the development were to go ahead, there will be around 28,500 extra two-way HGV movements every year. More than half of all lorries will go through Whitchurch Village leading to more noise, air pollution and will make the existing problems on the busy A37 far worse.”

The waste-to-power plant scheme was refused by B&NES on the grounds that it is not a suitable site for such a large development and would harm road safety and the road network; it was also considered that it would be inappropriate development in the Green Belt as well as harming the openness of the Green Belt because of land raising.

Other reasons were that it would harm protected species, as well as vulnerable people in terms of noise and air quality; and could impact on Queen Charlton’s proposed ‘liveable neighbourhood’ scheme.

Find out more about POKE on their website.