Mushroom farm plans set for green light

CONTENTIOUS plans to build a new mushroom farm and anaerobic digestion plant near Littleport look set to be approved, despite a campaign from residents and businesses.

In a report to the district council’s planning committee, officers recommended plans for the 39.2 hectare development for approval, stating that it would result in “improvements” to the area.

Councillors were due to vote on the plans on Wednesday.

The plans have continued to attract controversy since they were submitted back in January, with the council receiving dozens of letters from residents objecting to the development.

The businesses behind the plant, G’s Growers of Barway and Produce Global Solutions of Ely, say the development, to be built at May Farm, Mildenhall Road, would bring 100 jobs to the area as well as bringing “significant investment” to other local businesses.

Opponents of the plans, who compiled a petition with 104 signatures, say however, that the development would impact adversely on the surrounding landscape, cause a noise and odour nuisance and would see large increase in traffic.

In a letter to planning officers, Kevin Cook said: “The environment impact of such a development could be catastrophic for the local wildlife. It is not unusual to see badgers foraging for food around the location of proposed development and water voles emerging from the affected roadside drain.”

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Andrew Preston added: “We need to preserve our quality land for food production, not concreting over it for the sake of reduced costs for the production of mushrooms.

“The prevailing wind is south westerly which puts the Little Ouse village, Brandon Bank, Feltwell and Southery into the downwind, making them likely targets for any gaseous output and noise pollution which carries for miles.”

According to the plans, the mushroom farm will produce 60 tonnes of mushrooms every week in its early stages and up to 130 tonnes a week at full capacity, providing produce for consumers locally and regionally and helping to reduce the reliance on imported goods.

The plans also include proposals for a 2.5 megawatt anaerobic digestion plant located near to the mushroom farm to provide renewable energy to power the facility using organic waste. Any surplus electricity generated would be fed back to the national grid to power nearby homes and businesses.

In its submission to the council, the applicants stated: “The proposal would have wider benefits for the local economy in helping to create jobs, provide local investment and expenditure to the benefit of other businesses within the area.”