Top tips to overcome the planning hurdles to anaerobic digestion

Published July 2nd, 2014

Choosing the right site, advance preparation and keeping the local community informed are three areas to prioritise when making an application for a renewable energy project,  a national renewable energy conference has been told.

Addressing the UK AD and Biogas event at the NEC, Stephen Locke, partner of Berrys at Shrewsbury said communication is vital and site selection crucial.

“If you are thinking about anaerobic digestion we recommend that your seek early guidance from a renewables planning expert so that you choose the most suitable site,” said Stephen .

“The best site won’t necessarily be nearest the farmstead,” he said. “Putting the digester around the corner, well screened from view, could be a better option.”

Questions to ask about site selection include:

•       Is your site physically suitable?

•       How visual in the landscape?

•       Neighbours – how close are they?

•       Traffic – what is local road network like?

•       Noise/odour and air quality – will this create a nuisance?

•       Are there any pollution, surface or groundwater issues ?

•       Ecology – any sensitive sites nearby or any habitats or species affected on site?

“You will also need to have an available grid connection –  11kv  minimum, depending on the type of renewable installation” he said.

Other considerations will be the design of the plant, access, flood risk, nearby historic features, rights of way and whether the site is green belt.

“Local knowledge is gold dust. You need to identify the movers and shakers in your area and gain the trust of your neighbours,” Stephen advised.

Pre-application and Environmental Impact Assessment responses are valuable so you have all the facts and figures at your fingertips. Engaging with the planning process is vital to satisfy all stakeholders’ requirements.

“Taking planning advice early could reduce the heartache and expense of a failed application,” he said.

“We have submitted planning permission for more than 30 plants ranging in size from 150kW to 2.3MW and have satisfied clients looking at a five-year pay back on their investment.”

“Obtaining planning consent can be a lengthy process but get it right first time and you could save yourself a lot of time and hassle,” he added.

Stephen be contacted at the Shrewsbury office of Berrys on 01743 267062 or email

Stephen Locke MRICS MRTPI FAAV was speaking on Overcoming the Planning Hurdles to Anaerobic Digestion at the Planning and Public Engagement Seminar at UK AD and Biogas 2014 on July 2 at The NEC.

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