Anger as plans for waste plant get go-ahead

Oil rich food waste such as chips could be turned into fuel
Oil rich food waste such as chips could be turned into fuel

Furious residents yelled “shame on you” from the public gallery as councillors approved two controversial green power schemes for a rural site in the district.

Councillors had said “yes” to a fuel-from-food-waste plant, known as a Thermophilic Aerobic Digester (TAD), and “yes” to a large £42million renewable energy generation building on a site at Pebble Hall Farm, off the A4304 near Theddingworth.

The latter was approved by councillors – in a meeting lasting almost five hours – despite a recommendation from their own officer that it should be thrown out.

Both schemes had met determined opposition from Theddingworth residents, 15 of who spoke at the meeting.

Five people, mostly linked to the project, spoke in favour of the schemes.

The two proposals were approved by Northamptonshire County Council’s development control committee, because although the site is near Theddingworth, west of Harborough, it is a few metres across the Leicestershire/Northamptonshire county boundary.

Theddingworth Parish Council chairman Michael Rainey, called the decisions “appalling”.

Afterwards he said: “We felt the whole meeting was an abysmal charade. Because many of the protestors were from Leicestershire, some councillors seemed to feel they could do what they liked without losing any votes.

“We now fear a constant stream of bad odours, pollution and increased traffic movements from HGVs.”

Theddingworth is only 750 metres from the farm.

Clive Smith, chairman of Hothorpe Hall, a hotel, wedding and conference centre just 500 metres from the site, had told the meeting the applications threatened to “undermine the business and the social cohesion of the communities around us”.

The first approved application was for a TAD food waste processing plant which would create biofuel energy for export to the National Grid.

The second was for a renewable energy generation plant which would process 72,000 tons of wood waste a year, producing another 6MW of energy.

Major new building work is required for the second application, including a plant hall measuring 85 metres by 25 metres, and 18.5 metres high.

Local residents had complained bitterly about noise and smells from the existing composting and wood processing work at the farm and about a “huge industrial complex” being proposed in a pretty, rural area.

But Pebble Hall Farm owner Roger Clarke told the meeting he would be creating green energy and 22 jobs on a well-controlled site.

Cllr Malcolm Waters said he preferred to see Pebble Hall Farm’s green energy, rather than thousands of tons of waste being put into a diminishing number of landfill sites.

Both plants will operate 24 hours a day, with lorries delivering to the site between 7am and 6pm on Mondays to Fridays, and from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.