I’ve had several requests from those of you that couldn’t make the hearing including a couple from other residents groups in other parts of the country who are also fighting to stop similar unsuitable facilities being built near to their homes. Below is my written address. I did ‘ad-lib’ a little but its mostly as written.
“Thank you Mr Chairman and Committee
“I address you not just as one of the ward councillors but also as a resident of Park Farm.
“I’d like to attempt to dispel this myth that anaerobic digestion plants are really ‘green’ and I’d like to point out at this early stage that the Environment Agency is on record as commenting “that the proposed development may cause offensive odours and noise within the local surroundings. The planned development is within 400 metres of a large residential area which may be affected should odour or noise emission be an issue.
“This particular plant is proposed to be within 400 metres of Park Farm homes and is for the production of gas (this one isn’t being used to generate electricity to the grid, just a small amount for the plant itself).
“It certainly will not be green for the local environment. What’s very important to consider is that absolutely none of the feed or waste will be from Peterborough residents houses, there being no contract with Peterborough City Council so to be viable much of it will need to be transported in from many miles around.
“This is just private enterprise making a profit at the expense of the local environment by creating more traffic and more fumes to service the plant (as the report says, an estimated 26,000 tonnes of additional waste will be required to feed it) and this will have to come in and out of an already highly congested road network that can’t currently cope with queues regularly being suffered right through Stanground back as far as Fletton and way past Cardea on the bypass back to Amazon during peak times and throughout the day in the winter months if North Bank is closed due to the River Nene flooding, something which seems to happening more and more over the last few years. In addition, Middle Level Commissioners advise that the 70 year old Horsey Toll Bridge will probably not cope with the increased traffic levels.
“Moving on to the process
“It is well documented that industrial style farming of maize to feed the process destroys the soil make up so even the crop growing isn’t without long term problems. The Soil Association states that “Biogas produced from maize, while described as ‘renewable energy’ is not providing any net benefit to the environment. Recent research concluded that ‘using agricultural crops for biogas production is not environmentally sustainable and policy should not encourage this practice”.
“In times of heavy rain, massive quantities of water and soil wash off the surface of the fields, polluting waterways and causing floods”.
“The process, while I appreciate the applicant will claim will be fully controlled, cannot claim 100% that no odour or bio aerosols (well-known by-products of this process) will ever be emitted. I’m an engineer myself that works in a critical environment and breakdowns are part of life and not all can be mitigated against. Incidents throughout Europe suggest that at times foul odour and fungal and bacterial spores will be emitted into the surrounding air and depending on wind direction, will spread to the nearby housing area. This will not only unpleasant by way of smell but can also could cause serious harm to residents and their children by way of health problems.
Cranfield University state in one of their reports that bio aerosols are not filtered out by the hairs and specialised cells that line the nose. They can therefore penetrate deep into the lungs, causing both respiratory and gastro-intestinal symptoms. Exposure to bio aerosols has been associated with human health effects and symptoms usually manifest as inflammation of the respiratory system, coughs and fever and may cause or exacerbate respiratory diseases. They have been also known to cause gastrointestinal illness, eye irritation and dermatitis.
“To imply that the wind rarely blows in the direction necessary to affect Park Farm etc is disingenuous to say the least. From time to time we are affected by the smell from McCains which is much further away and important to note in a direct line of site of this proposed site and Park Farm. Mr Jones I’m sure will confirm to you that cooking smells whilst they can be annoying, are much lower down the agreed planning scale of having an effect on a person’s amenity that that of rotting food.
“Apart from odour and bio aerosols, an alarming quantity of spills have been reported in the industry either within the process plants or from the containers serving them. Some areas of the country have seen their woodlands, grasslands, grazing pastures and waterways absolutely devastated by such spills. If just a small amount of digestate finds its way into our river system and/or water table, which you will have noticed the river on your site visit is actually very close to the proposed site, the environmental damage would be absolutely catastrophic and take years to recover from, if indeed it ever did.
“Nothing survives in or close to the water, all marine life, plant and animal, will die. Then there are the animals and birds that live alongside or visit the waterways. They too will be poisoned.
“Taking all this into consideration, I’m really struggling to see where the benefit is for local residents living within a few hundred yards of the site and I’m certainly not alone.
“Mr Chairman, you cannot fail to notice the amount of people here today who have taken time out to be here to show their support for this objection and the more than 147 people who wrote in personally to object. In addition 3 separate petitions have been submitted, one from our neighbours in Kings Delph with 52 signatures which I understand is nearly every house, one from the surrounding Stanground Wards with 1491 signatures and an online petition with 721 commentators.
“When this plan was first discovered, that’s right we found out about it rather than were told, I managed to persuade the developer to come to Park Farm and meet the residents and discuss what it was they were proposing. Over 200 people were packed shoulder to shoulder in the school hall, all very much concerned at what impact this could have and I know of not one person that went home feeling assured that this would be a good thing. Quite the opposite.
“The proposed site sits within all 3 flood zones and needs evidence of a sequential test but I understand this has not been forthcoming.
“There is no evidence that alternative sites were properly considered as is required by the EA. If they just moved it a few miles away and ensured it was well away from our homes, watercourses and congested highways, I doubt many would object to it.
“The reason the developer wants it where it is, is in my opinion, because the gas main is close by and suggests clearly to me, that this is a case of profit being put before local residents lives.
“Mr Chairman. It is ‘greed’ not ‘green’ that’s driving this application and I urge you and the committee to not only fully endorse the reasons for refusal given by Mr Jones today but also take into consideration the ‘wriggle room’ the developer might achieve by just removing the ‘caravan’ mentioned in any future revised proposal, leaving committee with no option but approve should you choose to accept this as the only resident likely to be affected by noise and odour.
“I will finish by respectfully reminding you of the statement by the Environment Agency. “that the proposed development may cause offensive odours and noise within the local surroundings.
“The residents and their children are extremely concerned at the possible negative effects on their life should this go ahead so I urge you all to please to robustly refuse this application.