The company running a small farm in Plaistow, which wants to turn it into an energy production plant, has responded to a legal challenge brought by residents.
Crouchland Biogas, which owns the farm of the same name, is seeking retrospective planning permission to triple the size of an existing anaerobic digester. The equipment turns farm waste, such as grains and manure, into gas, which then can be used to make electricity.
Last week, days before the West Sussex County Council planning committee was due to debate the application, a legal challenge by Plaistow and Ifold Parish Council caused it to be dropped from the agenda after being recommended for approval.
Crouchland Biogas has now responded saying the company hoped the council would uphold its support for their development.
Managing director Leon Mekitarian said: “Dairy farming is in crisis. As with many similar farms across the country, we’ve had to make difficult decisions to ensure we are able to survive in the community that we have worked in for over a century.
“We have invested in biogas at our farm to ensure its long-term future, protecting the tens of jobs we support, both at our farm and at the many local farms that rely upon us remaining in business.
“We are pleased that West Sussex County Council’s planning officers recommend our proposals for approval, and that their Highways Department has no objection to our application.
“Their support brings us one step closer to ensuring that we are able to run a stable business for many more generations and produce much-needed renewable energy from what would otherwise be farm waste.
“We understand that there are many in the community who do not agree with the expert findings of the planning department at West Sussex County Council.
“This application actually proposes stricter regulations on our plant than are currently in place and would limit the number of vehicle movements that are of concern to the community.
“We are confident that the legal technicality that has slowed down the democratic process will soon be solved, and the council will be free to determine our proposal as it sees fit. It is in everyone’s interest that local representatives and not lawyers determine our application.
“If there are members of the community that would like to learn more about our farm, we would encourage them to visit our website at www.crouchlandbiogas.com, or to pick up the phone and call us on 0800 319 61 75.”