A controversial Plaistow energy farm has submitted an application to upgrade its dairy farming facilities.
Crouchland Farm in Rickman’s Lane has faced considerable opposition from residents for the development and use of its anaerobic digester with a retrospective planning application rejected and enforcement notices issued last year.
The business appealed against a partial decision by West Sussex County Council to grant it a certificate of lawful development for the current operation of its AD plant.
In a decision back in June, the planning inspector partially granted the appeal, including for two metal containers to aid gas conditioning for biogas plant, but did not do so for the separator and the flare, nor importation of waste and any other materials for anaerobic digestion from land outside the farm’s boundaries.
Now Crouchland has submitted a planning application to Chichester District Council for a modern dairy unit as most of its buildings are more than 30 years old and outdated.
Paul Curtis, head of group operations at Crouchland Farm, said: “This is an exciting time for Crouchland Farm. Replacing the existing barn with a state of the art dairy unit will help us improve the welfare of our cows and safeguard the future of our dairy farm for generations to come.
“The new unit will be one of the most advanced in the UK. Its ground-breaking, self-sustaining design will put us at the forefront of modern sustainable farming, which is exactly where Crouchland Farm should be.
“It’s better for our cows, our neighbours and the environment and we look forward to working with Chichester District Council throughout the planning process.”
The main features of the application includes replacing the existing barn with a state-of-the-art dairy unit with advanced cow welfare technology allowing the farm to milk up to 550 cows, while existing dairy units to the north of the farm will house dairy followers and young stock currently kept off-site to reduce transport and rearing costs as well as improving the welfare of the cows by reducing the risk of exposure to disease.
The new unit would include an automated welfare system, allowing the herd free access to feed, water, resting areas and milking machines, while solar panels would also be installed on the roof, and the enclosed waste system would be designed to limit odours.
Meanwhile the existing worker’s accommodation would be replaced by a two-bedroom flat to improve the management of the herd and provide a better working environment for the farm’s employees.
Residents have objected to the scale of operations at Crouchland Farm relating to the AD plant, which involves breaking down organic material to produce biogas.
The objections include concerns over the suitability of the road network for use by HGVs, as a lorry overturned near the farm back in July.
Both Plaistow and Ifold Parish Council and residents argued the incident demonstrated that the rural lanes were not suitable for such large vehicles.
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