Protests mounting over Garstang energy plant

Residents of Hagg Lane have concerns over the proposed AD Plant Site
Residents of Hagg Lane have concerns over the proposed AD Plant Site
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OBJECTIONS are mounting to plans for a £4million renewable energy plant near Garstang.

Agricultural company Farmgen wants planning permission for an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Plant at Moss House Farm, Hagg Lane, St Michaels.

But county highways officials have this week become the latest agency to raise questions about the application, describing it as ‘confusing’ and objecting on safety and operational grounds.

This follows objections already raised by the Environment Agency over flooding and pollution concerns, while United Utilities and the local parish council have also recommended refusal.

Nearby residents have joined forces to fight the plans, which they fear will lead to road safety and traffic problems on Rawcliffe Road and the quiet Hagg Lane, as well as fears over smells from the plant, which would use thousands of tons of cattle slurry in the AD process.

In his report, county traffic officer David Curry raises concerns over the impact on the rural highway network and advises Wyre planners to refuse the plant.

He says parts of the information contained in Farmgen’s design and access statement for the Moss House Farm proposals are confusing.

His report to Wyre says: “There is no clear indication of the likely level of imported material, even over relatively short distances on the public highway.”

He adds the “lack of clear, comprehensive traffic information” does not allow for a fully considered assessment of the highway implications.

Public concern and confusion have continued over the plans, which were brought to the attention of residents on Hagg Lane in November.

Farmgen initially approached local farmers in the area over the plans last July.

The energy-farming specialists 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, though this week the company claimed the number of households for which the plant could generate power would be 2,000.

Moss House Farm was bought in a £2.2million deal and creating an AD plant there would be the latest part of Farmgen’s £30million UK expansion plan. Lancashire businessman and co-founder Simon Rigby says it will provide ‘a much-needed boost to the rural economy.’

Farmgen’s first operational site was opened at Carr Farm, Warton, near Preston, last year. Many residents living nearby have raised their own worries about having an AD plant on this scale so close to their homes and businesses.

Wild Boar caravan park owner Judith Hunter said: “I am very concerned. It is right across from the caravan park.

“This is a small, quiet area and we have problems with Rawcliffe Road as it is – it is just so unsuitable for heavy traffic.”

A spokesman for Farmgen told the Courier this week some amendments to the planning application were under discussion with Wyre Council.

He said: “We thank our neighbours and the local community for the feedback we have received.

“Following the feedback we are in consultation with planning officers with a view to amendments being considered for some of the planning application.”

* See this week’s Garstang Courier for a special feature on the Farmgen plans, including a Q&A with the company and more local resident reactions