We live in a typical rural parish near Tiverton in Mid-Devon, a community with many traditional family farms. A number of those leading the objections to the anaerobic digesters are traditional farmers.
Since the Government driven expansion of the Renewable Green Energy Industry, the South West of England has been deluged by planning applications to build Anaerobic Digesters. These planning applications are often associated with industrial sized mega farms.
Approval is almost inevitably granted for these monster ‘on-farm’ AD’s by Local Planning Authorities which are unable or unwilling to understand the complexities of these major industrial facilities located in the rural community and their impact upon the human community and the environment.
As the result of half a dozen ADs near us, surrounding fields are being plastered almost daily with a combination of slurry and digestate (which the government has decreed are ‘the same’, even though they have very different properties). Neither product is classified as a high risk ‘waste’ controlled by strict regulation but are classified as a ‘fertilizer’ to be utilised by any active farmer without permit or licence.
Given the lucrative Green Energy subsidies and limitless Green Funding readily available, we know that some farmers are now utilising food producing farmland as a “spreading fields” the primary purpose of which is waste disposal.
Our experience has shown us that no one government agency nor relevant monitoring authority (EH, EA,EFRA, PHE, APHA, HSC) appears to have sufficient overall understanding or authority to enable them to resolve the problems we are presently experiencing; nor for that matter what others may also be experiencing in the wider Environment.
The Problems We Face
Since January 2017 ‘odour’ problems have become a statutory nuisance for nearby residents who are suffering from the offensive noxious fumes repeatedly invading their homes.
These same residents also suffer adverse health symptoms which the planning authorities and the environmental authorities dismiss.
Nearby plants appear to be badly affected by lack of chlorophyll, as well as orange tips and edges to foliage.
We have all noticed decreasing insect populations with no aphids, culminating in extremely diminished bird activity.
We are seeking answers to the following questions now before these Anaerobic Digesters destroy our community:
- Is our future health being compromised and how?
- Why is our Local Council refusing to take action against what is a statutory nuisance?
- Why was digestate from Frogmary Green Farm AD in Somerset and Great Hele, South Molton brought to Tiverton area to spread?
- How should digestate be tested and monitored prior to spreading on our precious land?
- Are the Environment Agency effectively monitoring land spreading ratios?
Perhaps the most important question underlying every other question is: Who can we turn to for help, having tried all recognised authoritive and regulatory bodies?
We need effective regulation of the development of Anaerobic Digesters and the mega farms that they are often associated with. We then need effective enforcement from all the regulatory agencies with full co-operation and free exchange of data.
We believe that many of the regulatory agencies already have wide-ranging powers so why aren’t they being used?
We all share the environment and we all have to breathe the same air!
We agree with Too Much Slurry that we need to work together across the UK to prompt solutions to the problems faced within our mid-Devon village.