Councils raise concerns over A142 congestion as AD plant extension is considered

Some of the 3-D views put forward by Pretoria Energy as they seek planning permission to extend the AD plant at Mepal.

Some of the 3-D views put forward by Pretoria Energy as they seek planning permission to extend the AD plant at Mepal. Traffic on the A142 has been raised by local councils during consultations. Picture; PRETORIA ENERGY - Credit: Archant

Fears of extra traffic on an “already congested and dangerous road” ought to be a reason to refuse an extension to an anaerobic digester plant but probably won’t be.

Some of the 3-D views put forward by Pretoria Energy as they seek planning permission to extend the AD plant at Mepal.

Some of the 3-D views put forward by Pretoria Energy as they seek planning permission to extend the AD plant at Mepal. Traffic on the A142 has been raised by local councils during consultations. Picture; PRETORIA ENERGY - Credit: Archant

That’s the conclusion of Chatteris Town Council when asked about fresh proposals for the Mepal AD digester plant at Iretons Way.

The town council says it takes “takes the pragmatic view that the application is very likely to be granted permission”.

But they remain insistent “that there should be mitigation in the form of the installation of safety/speed reduction measures on the A142, such as average speed cameras”.

Manea parish council says it has no objection in principle but they too are “concerned of the impact and capacity of the A142”.


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However, Mepal parish council, which says it was not consulted by Fenland District Council over the application by Pretoria Energy, says they have a number of concerns.

Considering its proximity to Mepal, and the fact that the existing site touches the Mepal parish boundary and with council’s existing traffic concerns relating to 55 homes proposed for the village by East Cambs Council, they felt they were entitled to comment,

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Supporting the principle of renewable energy schemes, the parish council is concerned about the “dangerous levels of traffic on this stretch of the A142 we are really worried about the inevitable significant increase in traffic”.

The council says the application relates to an extension fuelled by feedstock consisting exclusively of straw inputs and that this solid feedstock will be delivered four times a day via HGVs.

“Each load will consist of bales with an approximate combined weight of 25 tonnes so we also would like to raise the issue of loose straw littering the road and covering cars during the transportation to the digester, as we understand that the bales are not covered,” says the council.

Although they feel the company has mitigated any odour issues, their objection is on the basis of “a significant increase” in HGVs.

“This substantial increase in HGV traffic is also likely to result in increased road surface wear and the traffic chaos that resurfacing causes,” says the council.

“Recent road repairs to the A142 had a significant impact on congestion when there were temporary lights installed between the plant and Chatteris, so this is not just a theoretical concern”.

The council says highways believes the existing access via the A142 roundabout at Block Fen is suitable.

But the parish council fears extra traffic resulting from the housing increases in Sutton, Mepal and Chatteris, coupled with an additional four HGV’s per day, is going to result in “unacceptable additional congestion in the area”.

Sutton parish council says highways, too, is its concern and they also want to ensure restricted times of delivery are included, as they are now.

Pretoria Energy Company explains how it was set up to produce renewable energy by using feedstock from the local region and converts into renewable energy, typically gas and/or electricity.

It says the AD plant has undergone construction works over a four-year period to deliver a successful and robust anaerobic digestion plant and business.

“The purpose of the extension to the AD Plant is to generate low-carbon energy and process by-products,” it says.

The development comprises of purpose-built units designed and constructed for use within AD plants.

Straw will be used as a feedstock for the proposed AD Plant which would be extrusion pre-treated before being fed into the feed hopper (auger) to avoid any requirement for straw to be mixed with digestate.

It is estimated that the total annual feedstock tonnage will be 35,000 tonnes equating to approximately 100 tonnes of straw delivered per day.

Straw would arrive within a 10mile radius of the site, from both North & South bound directions, delivery vehicles will be HGV tractor and trailer units.

It says the AD process and production of gas and by-products will take place within sealed digester tanks and units.

In line with the previous variation of condition application the working hours of the proposal will be the same as the adjacent plant.

It is proposed that the working hours of the AD Plant are limited to: 7am to 7pm, Monday – Sunday (365 days a year).

“The AD process is a 24/7 operation which requires constant supervision, testing and general maintenance,” it concludes.

It is envisaged that the AD Plant will employ 10 staff on site, in addition to the existing AD Plant. These employees will operate over a 24hr working shift pattern on site.

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