Stepping up the fight to stop giant waste-to-power plant near Keynsham

Cllr Alan Hale & Cllr Paul May

The campaign group fighting plans for a waste processing plant in the Green Belt near Keynsham says it would be one of the largest facilities of its kind in the country.

Consultants employed by POKE (Protect Our Keynsham Environment) have now formally objected to Resourceful Earth Anaerobic Ltd’s plans to process crops and food waste to produce biogas to generate renewable electricity. The plans would increase capacity from the approved 25,000 tonnes of organic material per annum to 92,000 tonnes.

POKE says the smells will affect thousands of Keynsham homes and lead to a surge in traffic.

The anaerobic digestor (AD facility) at the former Queen Charlton Quarry in Charlton Field Lane would produce gas and electricity for local grid networks. Resourceful Earth Anaerobic Ltd (REAL) also proposes to restore local ecology in the old quarry.

Works on the former AD site were never completed, nor was it built in accordance with the permission granted. It closed in October 2017 when administrators were appointed.

The report from POKE’s consultants says that REAL’s odour management plan is seriously flawed and that during the busiest periods, the facility could generate 186 HGV movements per day – one every four minutes either arriving or leaving the site.

“The applicants make no effort to identify very special circumstances to justify the scale of the proposed development other than to refer to the previous unimplemented and far smaller proposal was in in 2014 justified by a lack of AD provision in the West of England or nearby. The position today is materially different.”

The consultants’ report calls on B&NES Council to take “prompt and decisive enforcement action” to secure the removal of all the unauthorised development and the restoration of the land to open countryside.

Meanwhile Cllr Alan Hale, who represents Keynsham South on B&NES Council, and Cllr Paul May, who is the ward member for Publow & Whitchurch, are calling for the plans to be refused, citing the detrimental effects the plant will have on the local community.

Cllr Hale said: “While we welcome the drive towards producing renewable energy, we do not believe it should come at the detriment of the local community in Keynsham and in nearby wards.

“If the anaerobic digestor is built, HGV traffic going to and from the plant would have to come along Woollard Lane and into Charlton Road. Anyone who is familiar with Woollard Lane will know that it’s in no way suitable for a constant flow of HGVs, especially if they are meeting each other at narrow sections of the road.

“In so doing, they could seriously damage the quality of life, and physical and mental health, of people who live nearby. Road safety would also become a major issue, with increased levels of HGV traffic in an area where people regularly walk and ride horses.”

Cllr May said: “This Green Belt development will mean that residents who live nearby will be directly affected by noise and smell pollution, and an increase in HGV traffic.

“Hundreds of new homes have been built less than a mile from the proposed development site and it’s deeply unfair that the occupants should have to live with this plant on their doorsteps.

“There are more appropriate locations for a development of this nature, ones that will not impact the Green Belt and local communities in the same way.”

The application will be brought before B&NES Council’s planning committee in due course.

Thank you for reading this. The Week In has been publishing local news free of charge for the last 12 years. That won’t change in the future but we are changing the way we run our business. Until now, we have been solely dependent on advertising revenue but we have now set up a cooperative to oversee the future development of the publication. The Week In Community Ltd is a community benefit society, owned not by shareholders but individual members. By becoming a member at £3 a month you will not only be contributing to the future of local interest journalism but will also have a say in the future of the organisation. To find out more, click on the button on the right of the banner at the top of this page.