County snubs residents and approves Colney Heath waste digester bid

A CONTROVERSIAL waste digester has been given the go-ahead in the St Albans district despite its proximity to a popular tourist attraction and fears it could contaminate a public water supply.

Herts county council (HCC) has snubbed residents and local councils’ pleas to turn down Agrivert’s application to build an anaerobic digester on Coursers Road in Colney Heath, near Willows Farm Village.

The digestion plant will process up to 48,500 tonnes of organic waste a year from Herts and neighbouring areas including London.

Despite a last-ditch petition and objections from St Albans district and Colney Heath parish councils, HCC’s development control committee members voted nine to six in favour on Tuesday.

That decision provoked an angry response from county councillor for the Colneys Chris Brazier and district councillor for London Colney, Jacob Quagliozzi.

After the meeting Cllr Brazier, a member of the committee who spoke against Agrivert’s scheme, said: “It’s another nail in London Colney’s and Colney Heath’s coffin. We are fast becoming the waste capital of Herts.”

He is pushing for the decision to be called-in by the Secretary of State.

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Cllr Brazier said the narrow country lane was unsuitable for an additional 54 trucks a day and added: “It’s Green Belt land and located in the Watling Chase community forest. People living in the north of Herts are putting everything in the south. It’s a pretty grim day for London Colney and Colney Heath.

“The people who don’t live there have voted for it.”

120 people signed a petition in a last-ditch attempt to sway HCC.

Cllr Quagliozzi said: “The campaign against this company’s proposal will now move up a gear.

“I will be writing to [St Albans MP] Anne Main and the leader of the council to make representations to the Secretary of State and we will continue to collect signatures for our petition.”

Chairman of London Colney parish council, Ian Orton, said: “I’m extremely disgusted at the result.

“It is only a few hundred yards from Willows Farm, 200 metres from where people live and two kilometres from London Colney.

“I’m extremely concerned about it as the decision has been made without thinking through the consequences. As a result it will make Coursers Road twice as busy and dangerous.”

An officer’s report to HCC recommended approval of Agrivert’s application, explaining that 70 per cent of material processed by anaerobic digesters, bio-fertiliser, would be spread on rural land within a six-mile radius of the site.

The facility, close to good transport links, would also be used to produce up to three megawatts of renewable energy a year.

In a submission to the council Veolia warned that the scheme was located in an Environment Agency-defined “safe zone” for North Mymms Water Treatment Works and there was, “significant risk of groundwater pollution from surface water ingression”.