To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Note: A maximum of 30 minutes is allowed for this item.
Mr George Faulkner, referring to item 8 on the agenda, said that he had asked Mr Walford, Chief Executive, in January if he knew what was in the pit that was producing distressing symptoms. He replied repeatedly that I would just have to wait for Environmental Health to investigate and report their findings. What are their findings? Environmental Health thought they had better check to make sure it was not our burning appliances, wood burners, which were causing toxic fumes, phenols, creosotes and other organic chemicals. So they recommended that we sweep our chimneys. Anaerobic digesters are effectively burning appliances that change energy from crops such as maize or grass into methane. This process also makes bi-products such as phenols, creosotes and other organic chemicals. The methane is burnt through an engine to produce electricity for subsidy payments for Greener for Life. At some stage the reactor is emptied, the digestate is tankered to Crossparks pit which contains slurry and other vegetable matter. The living bugs in the digestate and slurry now have fresh food to work on producing more methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide into the open air without even a chimney to raise it into the higher atmosphere. When the wind blows to us we suffer the consequences of open air anaerobic digestion, the toxic fumes, phenol, creosotes and other organic chemicals. Would you like to live in the middle of a chimney or would you describe it as a nuisance? Has Environmental Health achieved anything?
Mrs Suzanne Faulkner, referring to item 8 on the agenda, said that as well as Environmental Health asking us to check our chimney, they are now spending time and money on testing our well water which we have told them we have not used since 4 February. They are also testing Mr Hills borehole which at the moment is only used for his animals. Why? What tests have Environmental Health done on the pit itself? Bioarosols are suspensions of airborne particles that contain living organisms, bacteria, viruses and fungi. Mr Pritchard and Mr Newcombe and Mr Smith are fully aware of the fact that they can travel in the air. Mr Smith (PHE) says that they cannot get out of the pit because it is too wet. He is ignoring the dry unbroken crust on the top of the pit that was used to prove that there were no movements in or out of the pit. Wyke Research (now Rothemstead) write of bioarosols travelling 10km and remaining viable at the end of their journey. On 23 February the farm was engulfed in the toxic fumes from the big stir of the pit. We all felt ill. The wind was westerly. On Saturday 25 February we went to get in the car to have a night away from the continuing fumes which had been entering the house for many nights. My husband opened his door first, I followed opening my side. I was hit by fumes; the car had been parked by the house from the day of the big stir (23) until Saturday 25th. The weather was warm. Maybe the spores developed and then on opening the car they escaped into my face and lungs. We travelled to Barnstaple to stay at the Premier Inn. At midnight I was retching copious phlegm, feeling very ill and unable to breathe, as in previous attacks. I ended up spending the night in Barnstaple A and E. Last week I spoke to the Government Mycology Reference Laboratory and Diagnostic Service (PHE) in Bristol. I explained the situation here in Templeton and they said it was possible that it was fungal. They were surprised that there was a residential house only 80m from the pit and said it was advisable that Environmental Health tested the pit. I therefore ask the same question as I have asked many times before, will Environmental Health test the pit for bacteria, viruses and fungi to eliminate the possibility?
Mrs Judith Bikerstaff, referring to item 8 on the agenda said that she was joint owner of Palm Springs, the nearest property at under 100m to the open below ground slurry pit at Crossparks. The nuisance of noise and odour that we have experienced from this slurry pit over the years is well known to your Environmental Health department. However, since the importing of digestate from one of the Greener for Life Group anaerobic digesters at Great Hele South Molton for storage in the pit, we have suffered the aggravated nuisance of harmful emissions, which has given my partner an extreme adverse reaction as well as to a lesser degree myself and visitors to our property. We have supplied continuous daily logs/diary entries and numerous medical reports and updates to your officers and relevant agencies. My partner and I cannot understand why the Council's officers will not accept that the use of Crossparks pit is effectively being operated as an unlicensed transfer operation by Mr Reed of Greener for Life Group. Nor do we understand why Environmental Health will not recognise the nuisance at the very least to our enjoyment of our home and property, yet exactly the same intended use by the same operator was identified as a potential unacceptable nuisance and as harmful to the local environment and residents of Pennymoor, by the Planning Committee when they placed Enforcement Notice/16/00269/NUDRU Pulsards Farm. We ask when is this disgraceful invasion of our home going to end?
Miss Sarah Coffin, referring to item 8 on the agenda, said it has become apparent after a visit to the affected Templeton residents by your Director of Operations Andrew Pritchard on 29 March 2017 that despite both the history of this slurry pit and the increased degree of nuisance emanating from it, now it is being used to store digestate, Environmental Health cannot proceed with a case as they fear the operator will repute the cause is the pit and they will require beyond reasonable doubt evidence to take action. We ask what does this exactly mean and how should it be resolved? Do Councillors expect our tiny parish of 100 residents and a precept of £4k to take legal action ourselves and against whom, so that a legal precedent can be established? Isn’t this like asking a morris dancer to take on a martial arts expert?
It seems that intimidation prevails and the threat of potential litigation by legally savvy developers and ever decreasing timelines is preventing any meaningful scrutiny into adequate sustainable supply of suitable land for digestate/waste/manure disposal at crucial planning stage. This lack of scrutiny is directly relevant to the problem before you today and we ask you to consider the statement by Mr Reed in the Western Morning News 2/2/17 that the Greener for Life Group is planning further AD’s in the area. In view of this present problem how will the Council deal with yet further potential nuisance from the same problem of disposal of digestate and chicken litter from industrial farms in what is a prime livestock and tourist area? Has MDDC any plans to do as some other Councils in the country have and make a specific statement in their Planning Policy so that all industrial sized agricultural associated consents granted are fully aware that they are obliged to follow best practice guidelines and take all non-pollution precautions to ensure the protection of the local communities and environment.
Cllr Mrs Doe explained that she was in receipt of correspondence from the Chairman of Willand Parish Council regarding agenda item 11. Cllr Doe outlined the contents of the correspondence which she explained would be forwarded in full to be added to the consultation.
The Chairman stated that answers to questions raised would be provided at the agenda item.