First of three controversial Plaistow energy farm’s appeals set for hearing

Crouchland Farm SUS-150217-113114001
Crouchland Farm SUS-150217-113114001

The first of three planning appeals made by a controversial Plaistow energy farm will be determined by the planning inspector separately in a hearing and not a full inquiry.

West Sussex County Council’s Planning Committee partially approved Crouchland Farm’s bid for a certificate of lawful use for activities at the site off Rickmans Lane back in September 2015, a decision hailed as a ‘step in the right direction’ by residents.

Leon Mekitarian, who runs Crouchland Farm, said he was ‘pleased’ with the decision, which confirmed the lawfulness of the operation of an anaerobic digester, the collection and processing of biogas, the generation and exportation of electricity, and the production and exporting of digestate for use as fertiliser.

But committee members also decided that importing waste to use in the digester and exporting biogas represented a change of use that had not been approved under planning permissions granted by Chichester District Council (CDC) in 2007, 2008 and 2011.

Crouchland has since lodged an appeal against the decision, and the deadline for comments before the planning appeal has been extended until February 23.

This is separate to appeals relating to WSCC’s decision to refuse retrospective planning permission to upgrade Crouchland’s anaerobic digester and other equipment back in March 2015, and two enforcement notices issued by CDC last year.

According to the Planning Inspectorate’s website the other two appeals are due to be determined by inquiries.

Comments can be made online at http://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk by using the code APP/P3800/X/15/3137735.

Although electronic submissions are preferred, residents can also write to The Planning Inspectorate, Room 3/23 Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol, BS1 6PN.

Representations already made to the application and appeal will be taken into account by the planning inspector and do not need to be submitted again.

The certificate of lawful appeal will see the inspector only discuss what is lawful, as planning merits cannot be taken into account.

In the last few years residents have objected to the scale of the operation at the farm, which involves an anaerobic digestion plant breaking down organic material to produce biogas.

But at September’s Planning Committee meeting Mr Mekitarian described how they were ‘green energy pioneers’ and that their operations underpinned a loss-making dairy farm.

Following the two enforcement notices Chichester’s MP Andrew Tyrie wrote to Amber Rudd, Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, to call for Government renewable energy subsidies paid to Crouchland to be suspended until the ‘necessary consents, including planning permission’ have been obtained.

Related stories:

Plaistow farm energy plant refused planning permission

Councillors vote for Crouchlands Farm enforcement action

Crouchland Farm decision a ‘step in the right direction’ for residents

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