Green light for biomass facility on edge of St Albans

A RENEWABLE energy plant to replace a controversial composting site has been given the go ahead by county councillors this week.

A new biomass facility for the treatment of wood waste on the outskirts of St Albans will take the place of the composting site which has spontaneously combusted several times in the past and left unpleasant smells wafting as far as the nearby Verulam Estate.

Last year the former owners EQ Waste Management and their director Adrian Lupson was fined more than �17,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of �66,000 because the management of the site had fallen short of the standards required.

The new application for the Appspond Lane site, which was agreed by the county council’s development control committee on Tuesday, will process and manage up to 670,000 tonnes of wood waste annually and produce six mega watts of energy to export to the National Grid.

It will comprise a main building and a wood waste stockpile area as well as landscaping and although it will operate 24 hours a day, HGVs would only be able to enter during the existing operational hours of between 8am and 5pm Mondays to Fridays and from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.

The wood waste to be used is expected to come principally from sources in the county and other locations with good accessibility to the site.

St Albans council voiced strong objections to the proposal on the grounds of the harm to the Green Belt and traffic congestion but Dacorum Council had no objection subject to conditions limiting HGVs and routing

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The location of the site in the Green Belt concerned the committee because the size and bulk of the building would not normally be permitted. But they agreed that there were very special circumstances to outweigh the harm including the “substantial increase” in the amount of renewable energy produced by biomass in Herts on a site already used for wood chipping.

The application has to be referred to the Secretary of State as a departure from Green Belt regulations but if it is not called in for a decision, it will be deemed to have received planning permission.