LETTER: Area is worthy of protection

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I write on behalf of Plaistow and Ifold Parish Council to endorse all that councillor Josef Ransley has said in his letter to you regarding the retrospective planning application by Crouchlands Bio Gas Ltd (CBG).

It is disingenuous of Mr Metikarian of CBG to claim that the parish council has blocked the progress of the application by unnecessarily seeking a QC legal opinion.

The parish council was faced with no alternative, the applicant and WSCC having obtained legal opinion that resulted in a recommendation to WSCC Planning Committee to approve the scheme based on entirely inaccurate information.

I reiterate the parish council was in full support of the original ON-FARM anearobic digester (AD) to produce ‘green’ electricity from the ON-FARM dairy herd of over 1,000 cows waste and slurry.

This was a reasonable addition to the farming operation providing another revenue stream. The parish council understands very well the pressures on farming, one of our councillors is the wife of a dairy farmer and other councillors have strong family and working connections with farming.

But the parish council OBJECTS most strongly to the industrial scale development which has been undertaken by Crouchland Bio Gas Ltd. This requires the import from OFF FARM of many thousands of tonnes of energy crops, maize and wheat grain by 30-plus tonne HGV lorries and export of thousands of tonnes of bi -product, digestate by HGV tankers to surrounding rural areas; plus the export of bio- gas by HGV tankers to Portsmouth.

All the surrounding parishes have written to object to the large volume of HGV on the country lanes and through the villages, impacting on people’s lives, causing safety issues and damaging road networks not designed for such volumes and weight of traffic. There are over 430 letters of objection sent to WSCC and over 1,000 signatures on a petition from a small rural community.

Further there are concerns in the farming community that the intense production of maize will impact on current farming practices, pushing up land rental prices, reducing the production of food, straw and hay in the local area, thereby increasing costs.

The development has very little to do with farming, the dairy herd numbers have fallen to 300 and there is no commitment to retain them. We consider the driving force is the payout. To date Crouchland Bio Gas Ltd has received 75, 349 ROC certificates issued by Ofgem, with a current market value of £3.2 million.

We question whether such funding, ultimately paid by members of the public, should be made to an operation acting without planning consent.

We trust that WSSC will review the handling of the planning application and revise its recommendation in line with its own planning policies and that of Chichester District Council, which has recently restated its concerns and reaffirmed that this area is worthy of protection for its special remoteness and tranquillity.

SARA BURRELL

Chair, Plaistow and Ifold Parish Council, Plaistow Road, Ifold