Plaistow farm investigated over pollution concerns

Residents protesting outside Crouchlands Biogas Litd in Plaistow. They are against expansion of the farm -  picture submitted SUS-140210-162931001

Residents protesting outside Crouchlands Biogas Litd in Plaistow. They are against expansion of the farm - picture submitted SUS-140210-162931001

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The Environment Agency has launched further investigations into a farm which has been the source of controversial energy production.

Crouchland Biogas based at Crouchland Farm in Plaistow has submitted a retrospective planning application to upgrade its facilities using animal manure to turn into gas for energy.

It would extend existing permission from West Sussex County Council which allows them to produce enough energy for its own use. Now it is importing manure to produce much more energy than the farm needs. It feeds it back into the National Grid to power up to 8,000 homes.

It has caused much concern in the area as HGVs travel to and from the farm on the narrow country roads.

In the most recent turn of events, the company is now being investigated by the Environment Agency.

A spokesman said: “We have received many complaints about activities based at the farm and we are carrying out a full investigation.

“In the meantime, we are still visiting the site to monitor environmental performance and ensure that the businesses based there comply with the law. We are in regular contact with residents living near to the site, and will continue to keep the community updated on progress.”

People can report suspected pollution by calling the Incident Hotline on 0800 807060.

Managing director of Crouchlands Biogas Leon Makitarian said the company was fully complying with the investigation.

He said: “Crouchland Farm awaits any guidance that the Environment Agency provides as a result of its recent enquiry. We operate a well-established and busy dairy farm, and we have always worked hard to ensure that our farm complies with all relevant recommendations and regulations that guide how a farm such as ours should operate.”

The retrospective planning application was submitted in July 2014 and it is expected to be discussed at February’s county planning committee.

Plaistow and Ifold Parish Council is among those who have lobbied to stall the plan.

Stuart East from the council said: “The parish council is extremely concerned that, despite the site and its operator being under intense scrutiny, they are still showing a complete disregard for the local environment which has resulted in more enforcement action being taken against them by the Environment Agency.”

He added that he hoped the county council would take ‘positive action’ to protect the environment the parish.