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.
Sarah Coffin, Chairman of Templeton Parish Council, referred to item 7 on the agenda, (update regarding Crossparks). She stated that as a Parish Council we share our Parishioners frustration and anger. We have continuously expressed our support of the truly self contained on farm Anaerobic Digesters (AD) but have argued with sound and informed objections against cluster AD’s, all of which have been continually dismissed and ignored by your Planning Officers and the majority of the Planning Committee.
Now that farm manures (to include digestate) are the responsibility of Local Planning Authority and not Devon County (See Bedford Borough Council) and are only subject to voluntary ‘Best Practice’ regulations; what measures has this Council taken in Planning and Enforcement to fulfil its obligations under the Environment Act and Human Rights Act?
It is a fact that a 1MW power AD requires approximately 1600 acres of land to dispose safely of the digestate produced, so exactly how much of the digestate being imported to Crossparks from any of the 8 Greener for Life AD’s (all 1 MW) can be disposed of in accordance to all waste/fertiliser ‘Best practice’ as well as in accordance with sustainable and environmental criteria?
Given that this Council has been made aware of other problems of odour occurring from the spreading of digestate and the fact that all EA permits refer to a standard requirement of 250 metre exclusion zone from nearby dwellings, or require a bespoke permit, residents cannot understand why you refuse to act.
WRAP guidance also states under ‘Best Practice’ that the liquid digestate should not be spread with a splash plate close to nearby dwellings with the preferred option being by slurry injector tanker, this prevents air pollution and pathogens/spores being spread in the atmosphere for up to 10 kilometres.
How can the Council fulfil its duties under the Environment Act 1990 and its obligations under the Human Rights Act if it does not ensure that the operator has done everything possible to mitigate any statutory nuisance that our residents have reported since January 2017?
We request that:
1. Full Environmental Impact Assessment to assess the cumulative import / export activities be undertaken (see Pulsards comments reference).
2. A full (not desktop) ‘Outdoor Impact Assessment’ be done by a professional consultancy firm to see if it is possible with material changes and reasonable enforceable conditions to make the site acceptable (i.e. pit covered).
3. Stop Crossparks pit being used as part of a Transfer Operation (see DEFRA Standard Rules Consultation No. 14 Landscaping and Digestate Storage) – instruct operator to seek retrospective Planning and a Transfer Operators Licence. The present activities constitute a ‘Change of Use in operation to the detriment of local infrastructure and neighbours’.
4. All EA standard permits require 250 metre minimum distance from non-connected residences/public buildings for AD digestate storage otherwise a bespoke permit has to be sought with the Applicant able to prove he can fulfil sufficient mitigating conditions which are enforceable.
5. All digestate spreading within 250 metres of any residence should be notifiable to the Local Planning Authority and method (splash plate or digester) approved. (See Lea Moor Plymouth).
Mr Hill spoke in relation to the same item and stated that he lived at Palm Springs and was the resident being affected most as he was in closest proximity to the site in question. He was currently being seen by a consultant and since January had been suffering from an ulcerated mouth and a split tongue. He further stated that we were still awaiting the results from the tests, why? Recently 37 arctic loads had been unloaded into the pit at 30 tonnes a time. How could this not be a transfer operation? He only lived 8 metres from this pit and if no action was taken he would take the matter to the European Court.
Mr George Faulkner, again referring to the Crossparks item, stated that he had asked Mr Walford in January ‘what was in the pit causing our distressing symptoms?’ He replied that I would just have to wait for the officers to investigate and report back. For the sake of the Mid Devon populace I asked him not to allow the spreading of the pit contents, foreseeing malevolent consequences. In the meantime my wife has been to A&E several times. So bad was the situation, so tardy the official response, so much ridicule we received, we had to investigate for ourselves.
Even now Mid Devon cannot tell us what was, is, or will be, in the pit. Oh, they put test tubes up to test the air around the pit but then it was empty and inactive. Immediately after the test tubes came down, the operator resumed refilling in a seemingly contemptuous manner.
We have had enough, our agents are seeking assurance from the officers that nothing untoward is emanating from the pit to allay any fears prospective purchasers may have. Oh, and by the way, the water tests, about which I am sceptical, have revealed that the ground water under the pit is severely contaminated. Unless you buy into Mr Winters, of Mid Devon Environmental Health’s theory that Mr Hill, Palm Springs, has ducks that splodge and pollute through 47m subsoil.
Mrs Suzanne Faulkner, also referred to the Crossparks item. She stated that it had now been over 5 months that they had been suffering from the fumes at Crossparks. Our bees died when the fumes came over the farm in March. Since then I have not seen a single honey bee. In fact, where had all the insects gone? Last year, our conservation meadow was teaming and so noisy with a variety of life. Today, it was quiet!
Where were all the flies? Every year we spray our cows and goats with herbs to keep the flies at bay. This year we have not needed to spray them once. Where had all the birds gone? We rarely hear them sing. It used to be so noisy. Have they sore throats from the fumes or are they just fleeing with no food to eat and poisoned air to breathe. Plants live by the pit. They cannot escape, they are discoloured, deformed and dying.
The Chairman indicated that the questions would be addressed when the item was reached on the agenda.