Green light for anaerobic digester at Guants House
A LITERALLY 'ground breaking development' for the area was approved by East Dorset District Council on Tuesday when its planning committee gave the green light to an anaerobic digester at Gaunts House in Wimborne.
The plant will take waste products from the estate and convert them into renewable energy and heating for the Grade II listed Gaunts House and compost for the land, and was described by chief planning officer Neil Lancaster as a 'win-win' proposal for the owners.
"We have to consider the impact on the rural area and siting," he said, "but the storage containers, although inappropriate development in the green belt, will be sunk into the ground behind woodland in Petersham Lane.
The committee was told that the proposal was to re-use farm waste in a sustainable way, reducing waste and producing energy at the same time as reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
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The process will use manure from the estate's farms as well as maize and crop waste produced on the estate.
The biogas produced can be burnt to provide electricity and heat, and the system proposed (Combined Heat and power – CHP) will generate heat and electricity which will be used for Gaunts House and its outbuildings, with any surplus exported to the National Grid.
The digestate will provide fertiliser to be spread on the estate's land in place of artificial fertilisers which are carbon intensive to produce.
It will provide environmental benefit for the soils and groundwater as a natural way to enrich the soil.
Mr Lancaster said a separate planning application would be needed for the sealed lagoon in which it will be stored around 900m west of the unit.
He added that the scheme was only part of five projects on five separate sites which will be submitted in the future by the estate and which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its operations and make it self-sufficient in terms of energy use.
Acknowledging the concerns of Holt Parish Council about traffic movements, it was agreed to add a condition that there should be no importing of materials from sources outside the estate, and also a condition that no human waste should be processed in the digester.
Councillor Pat Hymers moved approval, describing it as "a ground-breaking development for our area", and Councillor Spencer Flower congratulated the applicant on their foresight in installing the equipment on the farm.