Herts water supply 'at risk from waste digester'

PUBLISHED: 07:47 16 June 2012 | UPDATED: 14:28 18 June 2012

Herts County Council

Herts County Council

Archant

VEOLIA has warned that a waste digester proposed for Green Belt land at Colney Heath could affect a neighbouring public water supply.

Agrivert has applied to Herts county council (HCC) to process 48,500 tonnes of biodegradable organic waste annually on Coursers Farm, Coursers Road.

It wants to spread 70 per cent of material processed by anaerobic digesters, bio-fertiliser, on rural land within a six-mile radius of the site.

But in a submission to HCC, Veolia said that Agrivert’s scheme was located in an Environment Agency-defined “safe zone” for North Mymms Water Treatment Works.

It added: “This is a public water supply comprising a number of chalk abstraction boreholes operated by Veolia and they have concerns.”

Those fears include, “a significant risk of groundwater pollution from surface water ingression in particular after heavy rainfall.”

With county councillors to consider the application next Tuesday, June 19, residents in St Albans, including London Colney, are continuing their fight against the controversial waste digester, launching a petition to halt the scheme.

Despite objections from residents and several councils, HCC officers have recommended councillors approve the facility, subject to referral to the Secretary of State.

The report admits that while it would have both a visual impact and an adverse effect upon the openness of the 5.2ha site currently used for grazing, its “benefits” outweigh disadvantages.

Villagers fear that if approved the scheme will cause a stink, as a similar operation run by Agrivert at Redwell Wood Farm, just outside London Colney, has already attracted criticism.

St Albans district councillor for London Colney Jacob Quagliozzi said: “I and other local councillors have been inundated with complaints from residents, especially from the Thamesdale estate, about this existing site - the smell is unbearable even from 500 yards away.”

There has also been opposition from the Campaign for Rural England, Colney Heath parish council, North Mymms parish council and St Albans district council, all of which have lodged objections to the proposal.

The chairman of London Colney Parish Council, Ian Orton, said while members had recently voted unanimously to oppose the scheme, “we can only make recommendations.

“We must show that local residents have very serious reservations about this development.”

Agrivert wants to operate the anaerobic digestion plant continuously, day and night, and have waste material delivered every day of the week including weekends.

It would serve Herts and neighbouring areas such as London, taking farm and food waste from commercial and industrial sectors including schools and restaurants.

• Agrivert, which has a 20-year contract with Oxfordshire county council to process organic waste into compost, has recently been the subject of complaints about odours to the Environment Agency. The agency used its regulatory powers to ensure Agrivert reduced the amount of waste it had on the site and improve management of it.

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