Villagers protest against farm expansion plans

Residents protesting outside Crouchlands Biogas Litd in Plaistow. They are against expansion of the farm -  picture submitted
Residents protesting outside Crouchlands Biogas Litd in Plaistow. They are against expansion of the farm - picture submitted
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Residents of Plaistow, Ifold and Kirdford have carried out a public protest against plans to redevelop a small farm in Plaistow.

Crouchlands Biogas Ltd in Rickman’s Lane is an anaerobic digestion site where maize is used to produce gas.

In the past few months it has gone from being a small scale plant, using cow manure on site to power the farm, to a larger operation powered by maize from nearby farms.

The company is currently producing enough gas to power up to 8,000 homes and has submitted a retrospective planning application to West Sussex County Council covering the expansion.

That has now has attracted more than 300 objections from members of the public and they have set up a protest group Protect our Rural Environment (PORE).

One of their main concerns is the number of lorries on the roads. PORE committee member Dave Jordon said: “I live in Foxbridge Lane and on a busy day there are 20 HGV tankers coming up and down the road.

“On a normal day it’s a minimum of ten. Quite often they cannot get past each other and there is quite a lot of congestion.”

The WSCC Highways has also objected, asking for more information about the routes the company’s lorries use and to ‘address inaccuracies’ in the application regarding vehicle loads, annual tonnage and total number of vehicle trips.

A spokesman for Crouchlands Biogas Ltd said: “The application covers a number of upgrades to both the farm and the previously consented anaerobic digester.

“We know that vehicle movements are a concern for the local community. This is why our vehicles are restricted to routes designed to avoid local villages wherever possible. Conversations with the Highways team at WSCC are positive and ongoing.

“Where the department has asked for detailed answers to specific questions we have provided the further information. We are doing all we can to ensure the council has all the facts and figures they require and we are confident that we will meet their requirements.”

He said the anaerobic digester produced clean energy exported by ‘just three vehicles per day’ and a positive decision by the council would enable the farm to remain in business employing 26 people.

He added: “We will continue to listen to the community for the long term benefit of those that live and work in it.”