Planners to discuss possible enforcement at Plaistow energy farm

Crouchlands Farm
Crouchlands Farm

A DECISION on enforcement action at a controversial energy farm near Plaistow could be made next week.

Crouchland Farm, in Rickmans Lane, saw its retrospective application to upgrade energy production equipment rejected in March by West Sussex County Council, which has now referred enforcement action to Chichester District Council.

Crouchland response to Chichester district councillor Josef Ransley (submitted). SUS-150616-130432001

Crouchland response to Chichester district councillor Josef Ransley (submitted). SUS-150616-130432001

A report on possible action will be discussed at the district council’s next planning committee meeting on Wednesday June 24 starting at 9.30am at East Pallant House.

It recommends that the council issues two enforcement notices. One would relate to the farm’s change of use from a mixed use for agriculture to a commercial biogas plant, while the second looks at the installation of commercial biogas plant equipment.

Residents have strongly objected to the scale of operations, which involves an anaerobic digestion plant breaking down organic material to produce biogas, but the owners of Crouchland believe their side of the story has not been heard.

Chairwoman of the Plaistow and Ifold Parish Council, Sara Burrell, said: “It is reassuring to see Chichester District Council proposing positive action against the unauthorised development at Crouchland Biogas. This sends out a very strong message that you can’t just run rough shod over the planning system and get away with it. For too long the local community and environment has suffered. At long last common sense is prevailing and the site will be returned to what it was before, and supported by the local community.”

This week Crouchland has responded to a blog post written by Chichester district councillor Josef Ransley by adding comments to help the community get a ‘clearer picture’ of its operations.

Crouchland Farm’s Leon Mekitarian said: “We’d like to extend a further invite to Cllr Ransley to visit our farm so that he can see with his own eyes the people we employ, our dairy herd and our green energy plant. We’d be happy to talk to him about the things he is worried about. There are two sides to every story.

“We’d like Cllr Ransley to hear ours and work with us to find a solution that works for everybody he represents, not just those that make the most noise.

“Much has been written about Crouchland and much of it has been inaccurate. We’ve decided to comment on one of the Cllr Ransley’s most recent blogs to help the whole community get a clearer picture of what’s really happening. We’d quite like to know why Cllr Ransley never makes reference to the benefits of our plant? Why no mention of the green energy our farm produces? We provide enough clean energy to support up to 4,000 homes. That’s enough energy to support five Plaistow parishes. We think that fact needs to play a far bigger part in this debate, our plant brings benefits to the parish and far beyond.”

Mr Ransley has responded to the issues raised by Crouchland.

He said: “I fully support green energy production, including on-farm biogas plant, but that is a wholly different matter to being asked to support unauthorised development and commercial operations in an inappropriate location.

“So no apologies Mr Mekitarian for I do not consider it appropriate to support your objectives and I wholly disagree with the view that Council should set aside enforcement action.”

To read the full response visit from Crouchland visit their website

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