A government planning inspector has thrown out appeals from Crouchland Biogas who were seeking planning permission for their controversial ‘unlawful’ expansion at Crouchland Farm in Plaistow.
The decision by Inspector Katie Peerless, yesterday (Tuesday, October 10) marks victory for residents in the Plaistow and Kirdford area who have waged a hard fought war against Crouchland for more than three years.
Following the ten day public inquiry earlier this year the inspector has dismissed Crouchland’s appeal against enforcement notices from Chichester District Council and against West Sussex County Council’s refusal to grant retrospective planning permission for expansion plans at the farm.
Sara Burrell, Chairman of Plaistow and Ifold Parish Council said: “For over four years this community has had to suffer the real and detrimental impacts of this unlawful development. The inspector’s decision fully vindicates the position it has taken - that this was an inappropriate and harmful development in a rural location.
“Since it went bust, Crouchland Biogas has been placed in the hands of the Administrator. “The community now calls on the Administrator to do the right thing and adhere to the ruling that has been passed down by the planning inspector. Stop the unlawful activity and return the site to what it was originally, and which was fully supported by our community, a small scale on-farm AD unit for processing the farm’s waste.”
The Crouchland expansion plans were opposed by both Kirdford and Plaistow and Ifold Parish Councils and by the protest group PORE (Protect Our Rural Environment).
At the core of their objections was the inappropriate rural location for the ‘industrial sized’ plant which had resulted in thousands of HGVs using narrow rural lanes, in several significant pollution spills affecting waterways and disturbed the peace in a ‘special part of West Sussex.’
Announcing her decision on Tuesday Ms Peerless said although there were ‘undeniable benefits’ of bringing additional waste management facilities in the county, farm diversification and employment provision, she found the proposal conflicted with policies controlling the siting of such development.
She said: “The scale of the operation is such that it would amount to an industrial process to which the original farming enterprise would then be subservient.”
She also could vehicle movements would prove “dangerous to other road users and disturbing to local residents.”
However she has refused an application from Kirdford and Plaistow and Ifold Parish Councils for a partial award of costs against Crouchland.
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