£4m eco-waste plans dumped

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CONTROVERSIAL plans for a £4million renewable energy plant near Garstang have been withdrawn.

St Michael’s residents are celebrating the move by energy-farming specialists Farmgen, but the company says it will be back with revised plans soon.

Farmgen submitted proposals to Wyre Council for an anaerobic digestion (AD) Plant at Moss House Farm, Hagg Lane, St Michaels last year.

The plans attracted widespread public concern, with Lancashire County Council objecting to it on safety and operational grounds.

The Environment Agency, United Utilities and local parish council also recommended refusal.

Residents joined forces to fight the plans over fears for road safety and traffic problems on Rawcliffe Road and Hagg Lane, as well as concern over smells from the plant, which would use thousands of tons of cattle slurry.

Co-founder of Farmgen, Lancashire businessman Simon Rigby, said the decision had been made to pull the current application to address the concerns.

He said: “Following discussions with Wyre Borough Council and the local community, it has been decided to withdraw the application at this stage in order to examine in more detail some of the matters raised.

“We intend to resubmit a revised application at a later date, which will hopefully address these issues.”

Confusions mounted over parts of the information contained in Farmgen’s initial design and access statement for the Moss House Farm proposals.

It was initially claimed, if the eco-plant was given the go-ahead it would generate 1.2MW of electricity enough to power more than 1,500 homes. This was then upped by the company to 2,000 households.

This week Mr Rigby suggested the amended plans would mean less of the ‘energy crop’ (maize) would be grown on the farm: “The farming plan is not materially affected by this decision. Somewhat less maize may be produced but all the farm will be productively utilised as a farm business.”

Neighbour Richard Hall said: “It (the farm) cannot produce what they want it to – it is marshland. It (the plan) is gone and long may it be.”

Moss House Farm was bought in a £2.2million deal, with plans for an AD plant there part of Farmgen’s £30million UK expansion plan. Farmgen’s first site at Carr Farm, Warton, near Preston was opened a year ago.

Mr Rigby did not indicate when plans would be ready to be resubmitted but added: “The Rigby family are multi-generation farmers and will continue to farm the land regardless of the outcome of this planning application.

“Farmgen is committed to overseeing the installation of AD plants on appropriate sites across the UK in order to help our customers meet their local energy generation needs and help the country to meet its carbon reduction targets.”