Huge anaerobic plant plan in North Yorkshire is rejected

North Yorkshire County Council planning decision.
North Yorkshire County Council planning decision.

Rural residents have spoken of their relief after a plan to build a huge anaerobic digester plant to convert 90,000 tonnes of food waste a year into fertiliser and energy for the National Grid was rejected.

Villagers from Tollerton, near Easingwold, said they were delighted North Yorkshire County Council planning councillors had recognised the proposed scheme to import waste from food manufacturers and supermarkets across North and West Yorkshire – with 170 lorries arriving and leaving daily – would have affected their quality of life.

The proposal for a site near the A19 off Sykes Lane featured an 818sq metre anaerobic digester plant reception building and a 22,000 cubic metre lagoon for the storage of digestate.

After the meeting resident Helen Thomas said parts of the development would have been the height of four double decker buses in what is a flat landscape, representing an intrusion in the rural area.

She said :”The plan was for an industrial sized plant, and although we are pleased it has been rejected we believe Galtres Energy could appeal against the decision, so we are going to keep an eye on it.”

The residents, who had lodged 160 objections to the plan by Galtres Energy Ltd, had highlighted their concerns in a protest on the steps of County Hall in Northallerton, before the planning meeting.

They said while the plan would create five jobs, it would jeopardise a larger number of jobs at rural businesses and overload local lanes with traffic.

One resident told the meeting: “It may sound dramatic, but if this planning application is approved it will keep many residents isolated at home, or at least in the safety of their own cars.

The roads are already at breaking point with large vehicles churning up the verges, causing noise and vibration.”

Members said while farm diversification received their support whenever possible, they felt the scheme would put the local environment at serious risk.

Councillor John McCartney told members “industrial digesters should be on industrial estates”, while local member Councillor Peter Sowray said: “This is a very flat area and the plant would be visible from a long way, causing distress for a lot of people.”

A spokesman for the applicants told the meeting the proposal had been portayed inaccurately by council officers.

He said: “The applicant feels let down by North Yorkshire County Council and as a result has been commercially disadvantaged by the failure of what is supposed to be a fair democratic process.”

Only one member supported the scheme, Councillor Eric Broadbent, who said: “There’s no real concerns but from the villagers themselves.”

Stuart Minting , Local Democracy Reporting Service