Proposals for Biogas plant has locals up-in-arms

Birds eye view of Biogas proposed development
Birds eye view of Biogas proposed development

Newton Mearns is set to become a battle ground according to some commentators as we can exclusively reveal a planning application has been lodged for a new biogas plant.

The application, by the Greenhags Energy Company Limited was lodged with East Ren’s planning department on February 10.

This application follows hot on the heels of a campaign which was successful at fighting off an incinerator development last year by Lifetime Recycling Village (LRV).

The proposed development site plans, which are available to view online, show that the size of the scheme is huge at 1.98Ha - approximately the size of two rugby pitches.

The applicants have sought permission to build an ‘anaerobic digestion plant with alterations to vehicular access off the A77 and earthworks/excavation operations to change ground levels’.

A spokesperson for the council said: “The application has just been received and has not been assessed. We therefore cannot comment at this stage on whether it contravenes any planning policies.

“The site is located in the green belt, and the council’s local planning policies are as contained in the East Renfrewshire Local Development Plan. The assessment against the development plan and other material considerations will determine whether this is an acceptable development.

The application is categorised as a ‘local’ development in terms of the national thresholds. This means that it could be considered by officers under delegated powers.

However there are triggers that could mean that the application will instead be decided by councillors at the Planning Application’s Committee.

“These triggers include if 10 or more objections are received to the proposal. Additionally, the Director of Environment could decide that the application should be decided by the Committee.

“At the moment, as the application has only recently been received, no final decision has been made on the determination route.

“As a ‘local’ development we aim to decide the application within two months of registration.”

Ken MacIntosh MSP commented: “Having seen off the incinerator, the last thing local residents want is this proposal to come back in another guise. I am writing to the local authority immediately to voice my alarm and my total opposition to what looks like another industrial scale waste disposal plant. East Renfrewshire is a great place to live and bring up kids, it is not a place to build huge treatment facilities and to import rubbish.”

Kirsten Oswald MP said: “Given the recent controversy over the proposed incinerator, I would have hoped to see greater community engagement before this application was submitted.

“I believe the community will rightly be looking for reassurances on the traffic planning and environmental impact of the plant and I will work closely with the local community on this issue as the application is being considered.”

The developer has indicated to the council that it hopes to produce, over a 25-year period, an annual energy supply equivalent to that consumed by 3500 households.

They intend to produce that energy by the fermentation of grass silage, maize and sugar beet which would be delivered and chopped up on site before being fed into the first tank of a three-tank stage. The developers have claimed that no waste foodstuffs will be used in the production process and that they will only be using fresh, grown to order crops.

Further documents lodged with East Ren’s planning office have shown that it is anticipated 30 articulated lorries will require to access the plant daily, Monday to Friday.

The council have indicated that no environmental impact assessment is required for thie proposed development.

Due to the concerns of many locals in the area, Crookfur, Greenlaw and Mearns Village community council have organised a public meeting on Thursday, March 10 at 7pm within the Fairweather Hall in Newton Mearns. The developers, Greenhags Energy Company will be discussing their plans.