Anaerobic digestion plant blocked over green belt harm

Communities secretary Greg Clark has refused permission for an anaerobic digestion plant within a quarry in Greater Manchester, ruling that the proposed development would constitute inappropriate development in the green belt.

Communities secretary Greg Clark
Communities secretary Greg Clark

Energy firm Peel Environmental Services had appealed Bury Metropolitan Borough Council’s decision in March 2014 to refuse planning permission for the construction and operation of the anaerobic digestion plant at Fletcher Bank Quarry in Ramsbottom.

The proposed development would have taken up to a total of 45,000 tonnes per annum of waste, comprising by-products from the food industry together with select agricultural wastes, to generate heat and electricity. The facility would have been temporary, linked to the life of the adjacent quarry which expires in 2042.

Following a public local inquiry, held earlier this year, inspector I Jenkins recommended that the appeal be dismissed. In a decision letter issued this week, the communities secretary agreed with the inspector’s recommendation and dismissed Peel’s appeal.

Clark concluded that significant weight should be given to the renewable energy benefits of the scheme and that the "locational and economic benefits of the scheme should be given moderate weight".

But he agreed with the inspector that the proposals would conflict with the aims of the National Planning Policy Framework and would not amount to sustainable development.

His note concluded: "Taking all of the benefits of the proposed development into account, the secretary of state concludes that the harm to the green belt has not been clearly outweighed, and that very special circumstances do not exist to justify allowing the inappropriate development."

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