Editor's pick: Biomass plant allowed despite village location

A recovered appeal for a biomass-fuelled combined heat and power (CHP) plant in a Nottinghamshire village has been allowed due to it being located specifically to serve an identified end user.

The eight-hectare site contained an animal rendering factory and lay on the edge of a village  containing a grade I listed church and a parish hall but no other shops or services. A landscape and visual impact assessment concluded that the local landscape was of medium sensitivity. The secretary of state found that by weakening the landscape pattern, the proposal would have a moderately adverse effect on its character.

He found that the proposal would exert an urbanising influence on the rural landscape, to the detriment of the pastoral character of the area, and would fail to demonstrate compatibility with policies to safeguard landscape character. He concluded that it would also result in less than substantial harm to the significance of the church and a grade II listed grange, but still attached considerable importance and weight to this matter.

He acknowledged that living conditions had already suffered from the rendering operation. However, he observed that in assessing the appeal proposal's impact of the proposal on amenity, the focus must be on the likely effects of the proposal itself rather than any problems associated with the existing operation.

The main source of fuel for the plant would be poultry litter, supplemented by meat and bone meal and coppice chip wood. The secretary of state concluded that the proposal overcame a particular problem faced by CHP schemes by being located specifically to serve an identified end user for the heat produced.

While accepting that there might well be competition in the future for supplies of poultry litter or coppice wood, he saw a fair prospect of establishing a reasonably secure fuel supply. Overall it would make a valuable if modest contribution to the delivery of the government’s climate change programme and energy policies and represented a sustainable form of development.

Inspector: Kathleen Ellison; Inquiry

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