Norfolk MP objecting to controversial anaerobic digester plant

Richard Bacon has echoed the call of residents against the Bressingham anaerobic digester plan

Richard Bacon has echoed the call of residents against the Bressingham anaerobic digester plan - Credit: George Thompson

An MP has come out against a controversial bioenergy development on the outskirts of a South Norfolk village.   

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, has stated his opposition to plans for an anaerobic digester (AD) plant being built in Bressingham, near Diss. 

Last year, the planning officer questioned the legality of the development, which so far from a 2015 planning permission that it forced developer Deal Farm Biogas to submit a new planning application.

AD plants use organic waste and crops – such as manure or maize – to create biomethane that will go into the national gas grid and ultimately be used to produce power.

Villagers for. Bressingham express their anger at the development of an anaerobic digester that has

Villagers for. Bressingham express their anger at the development of an anaerobic digester that has been built just outside the village. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

On Monday morning, Mr Bacon met with around 70 residents from Bressingham and the surrounding areas.   

He said he was "deeply concerned" and promised his assembled constituents he would be writing to South Norfolk Council (SNC), the planning authority, to state his objections.   

Bressingham objectors held signs calling the plans a 'greenwash'

Bressingham objectors held signs calling the plans a 'greenwash' - Credit: George Thompson

He said: "I hear very strongly from the enormous opposition here that the whole thing was done in a way that was simply illegal.

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"I will be drawing all these concerns to the attention of the council and saying they are ones I share myself."

However, Mr Bacon said he did not have a lever that he could pull to stop the development.

Residents have raised a series of concerns in recent months about the development, including over the number of vehicle movements, the scale of development and decommissioning.

Richard Bacon addressing objectors to the Bressingham plan

Richard Bacon addressing objectors to the Bressingham plan - Credit: George Thompson

The planning application on the SNC planning portal has now received 176 objections, compared to 18 supporters.  

Mr Bacon said he supports the Orpington MP Gareth Bacon's recent motion in the House of Commons, which calls for making unauthorised development an offence and to prohibit retrospective planning applications.

Gareth Bacon's motion is still in the early stages but the South Norfolk MP said he would work with him to bring it forward.

The Norfolk MP added: "There does appear to be an approach to planning by many large companies that are just gaming the system and taking the mickey.  

"I understand that a planning application was approved many years ago for a project that was given planning permission but what was built here seems to bear no relation to what was given permission for."  

The Bressingham Anaerobic digester 

The Bressingham Anaerobic digester - Credit: George Thompson

Deal Farm Biogas was contacted for comment but did not respond in time for going to print.

Earlier this month a spokeswoman for Deal Farm Biogas, said the new part retrospective planning application had been submitted to validate changes from the 2015 permission.

She said: "The changes predominantly include amendments to the layout and positioning of equipment on the site, but critically, the application seeks to further enhance the sustainability of the plant by including carbon capture technology."

The project website can be found at www.dealfarmbiogas.co.uk, and the application can be found on the SNC planning portal, reference 2021/2788. 

A crowdfunder has been set up to cover legal fees against the development which can be found at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stopdealfarm