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Column 11th January 2023

Surely not an Anaerobic Digester as well?

An application has been submitted for an Anaerobic Digestion facility to be built at Grove Farm off Cow Lane near the Sewage works (and the Letcombe Brook) between Grove and East Hanney.

Anaerobic digestion is a process in which microorganisms break down organic matter in the absence of air.  The process creates usable products such as biogas and natural fertilisers.  It is a 24-hour 365-day industrial operation

It is proposed that this plant will import and treat almost 100,000 tonnes of silage, farm yard manure, pig slurry and straw per year.

The application describes the plant as an ‘energy generating station’ and will be amongst the largest Anaerobic Digester plants in the UK.

The plant will produce biomethane, carbon dioxide, a nutrient rich solid fertiliser and soil conditioner, and a liquid fertiliser (digestate), which would be used on local farms.

All of the materials to be digested and the outputs will arrive at and leave the plant by road so we believe there will be up to 70 vehicles movements per day between 7am and 6pm (approximately 1 every 10 minutes) with more than double that during the harvest period.

As the AD process can be water intensive, the proposed AD facility would capture as much rainwater as possible for use in the process. This will be stored in underground storage crates holding up to 1,600 cubic metres of water. This is, of course, water which would normally be available to Thames Water.

The digester tanks will be up to 17 metres high (half the height of the bunds of the proposed reservoir) and the pasturisation tanks will be 11 metres high. The associated weighbridge station will be four 40 feet containers on top of each other. There are many other buildings also included in the plans as well as three covered ‘digestate lagoons’.

The majority of the site will replace the current farm land with new hard standing including five digester tanks, the digestate lagoons, silage storage area and circulation areas all of which (like the reservoir) will be on land which currently absorbs water to reduce flood risk to Grove and East Hanney.

This is essentially a large industrial plant, and the Local Plan states that “Development in open countryside will not be appropriate unless specifically supported by other relevant policies as set out in the Development Plan or national policy.”

Is this yet another example of things being ‘dumped’ in OX12?


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