Deadline looming for comments on controversial power plant plans near Great Bowden

Residents are objecting to the proposed plant. Image: Mark AdamsResidents are objecting to the proposed plant. Image: Mark Adams
Residents are objecting to the proposed plant. Image: Mark Adams
Residents can have their say on proposals for an anaerobic digestion plant until February 8

The deadline to comment on plans for a biomass plant near Great Bowden is fast approaching.

Leicestershire residents can have their say on proposals for an anaerobic digestion plant, which would use chicken manure, on Marigold Farm off Welham Way, until Thursday (February 8).

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Campaigners have called the plans, from GMT Biogas, ‘severely flawed’, and say they contravene the Great Bowden Neighbourhood Plan, which states large buildings should not ‘adversely affect the character, infrastructure and environment of the village’.

Residents are objecting to the proposed plant. Image: Mark AdamsResidents are objecting to the proposed plant. Image: Mark Adams
Residents are objecting to the proposed plant. Image: Mark Adams

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien and the leader of Harborough District Council, Phil Knowles, have joined residents in calling for Leicestershire County Council (LCC) to refuse planning permission to GMT Biogas for the facility.

However, GMT says the gas plant would bring the derelict farm back into use and contribute towards green energy production.

It also says the deliveries of feedstock would be covered, it added, as exposing it to air lessens the quality of the final product. Similarly, the tank and storage would stay closed as much as possible, again minimise exposure to oxygen. All of these factors mean there should be very little smell leaking out to the surrounding area, the developer said.

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But objectors fear there are risks to the biodiversity of area including the impact of ammonia, identified in a Natural England report, on a ‘site of Special Scientific Interest’, 550m away, and nearby wildflower meadow.

GMT has previously said comprehensive ecology and biodiversity reports have been provided, showing there are no bats or reptiles present on site and no threat to the ecology.

Other major concerns include traffic congestion and the risks of HGVs turning on and off a ‘dangerous’ junction on the A6 on to Welham Lane, a single-track road. However, the applicant has responded, saying that aside from one month a year where some 50 two-way HGV movements are expected, daily operations would involve less than six lorries per day, and all traffic should enter and exit left to avoid crossing the junction.

But campaigners claim a roundabout would be needed, with funding resources uncertain.

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Resident Chris Attenborough said: “We advise anyone in Great Bowden and the Market Harborough area who is concerned about traffic problems, safety risks, the impact on the cycling and walking route of Welham Lane and horrible smells that can be carried on the wind for miles, to have their say on the LLC website.”

Campaigners have had no contact with GMT Biogas, the company behind the plans, although they are aware the company has invited residents to address concerns via a previous Mail article.

Mr Attenborough added: “We question why this is only being mentioned at this stage via a third party. Surely if this company wished to engage with the community, they would have approached the parish council last summer when they started the process, rather than ambushing us with insufficient reports when we have had just three weeks to object?”

GMT Biogas has been approached for a response.

Residents can visit the LCC website to comment on and view the plans until February 8.

MP Neil O’Brien’s petition can be signed here.

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