Chichester District Council must take action to ensure immediate enforcement compliance

We are trying to find out what legal steps CDC are taking to enforce the removal of the unauthorised garage/woodstore at Hardnips Barn (which was subject to a CDC enforcement notice with a compliance date of October 2017).

We understand that this building is the responsibility of the administrators of Crouchland Farm/ Crouchland Biogas. The compliance date was 5 months ago, and the council record of contraventions in February this year included a note dated 9th January that the building would be “removed in 2 weeks” and it is now a further 6 weeks on from that.

We are concerned for the precedent being set when there is the much larger enforcement of the unlawful AD equipment due by April 2019. After 5 months we have seen no unlawful equipment dismantled or leave site and we are concerned that the date will come & go without compliance.

Any failure by the council to take legal steps regarding the Hardnips woodstore will surely send the message that enforcement action can be ignored with impunity.

Photo 1 shows the 'woodstore' built unlawfully in Ancient woodland. The other photos show the property Hardnips Barn, where the 'woodstore' is found.


CDC explains that Meeting 'Minutes' were incorrect

You may remember the minutes of a November meeting held at Chichester District Council which we received in January via a Freedom of Information request? This meeting was attended by the EA, CDC, WSCC and a TK-Law Solicitor - which led us to believe that Crouchlands were looking at ways they could keep the big lagoon 3, lagoon 4 and AD 3 - and how we were horrified that this looked like a work-around of the Inspector's decision to remove them.

Well, we have been contacted by the head of CDC legal who has said that these were wrongly labelled “minutes” because they were not agreed minutes and that significant parts of the notes appear to be incorrect and on that basis he has asked us to remove them. He also said that there was no express or implied statement by officers of the TK-Law company that the Appeal Decision was being ignored, maligned or undermined.

Obviously this comes as a great relief to hear that those notes/minutes were wrong and that Crouchland will be adhering to the Inspector's decision by removing the unlawful lagoons, AD 3 and other unlawful equipment.

As yet we’ve seen no removal of unlawful equipment from the site. They were given 18 months to comply; 5 months have passed and it would be nice to think that we’ll start seeing some significant removal of equipment from the site soon.

You will also be saddened to hear that there are currently just 8 cows and a few calves left at the farm and that these will have gone in the next two weeks. The buildings are empty and the site is silent. We await the next instalment.


Aardvark now assesses AD plants nationwide!

Does anyone else find this unbelievable?

Aardvark Certification Limited (ACL), the sister company of Aardvark EM Ltd, (the consultants for Crouchland Biogas for the past 5 years), are running the new national 'AD Certification Scheme' which assesses the all-round safety, environmental and operational performance of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants.

Extraordinary and rather worrying, that a company (Mark Clayton was an expert witness for Crouchland Biogas in the ten day Planning Inquiry) that never saw any safety, environmental or operational problems at Crouchland Biogas is now in charge of checking AD plants nationally.



The plans of Provilege Project Finance and SGN?

What exactly are PRIVILEGE PROJECT FINANCE and SGN planning for the Crouchland Biogas site?

It is now 2 months since the planning inspector dismissed the Crouchland Biogas appeals. As we now know the business soon went into administration and is currently being run by the administrators, who we are told are looking to sell the business as a going concern. We understand that the AD is not currently in use and that importation of feedstock has ceased, as required by the Inspector.

BUT we remain very wary - all the unlawful equipment is still sitting there, we have not seen one piece move off site in the past 2 months. It seems that what were touted as “mobile pieces of equipment on metal skids merely requiring to be disconnected with bolts, or easily-moved shipping containers,” (when they wanted to play it down with the planners), have suddenly become immovable behemoths requiring months of decommissioning.

One such piece of equipment is the unlawful Purac plant supplied and owned by SGN (the national gas company). It is predominantly formed of shipping containers which they managed to transport across from Sweden and install in a matter of weeks, so why are they finding it so hard to move it now? SGN, despite our protests continually told us they would wait for the due planning process to play out – well it has SGN - and your equipment is unlawful. They were given 18 months to remove unlawful equipment. Are you telling us that a national gas company responsible for the country’s pipeline infrastructure doesn’t have the capability to remove it – any cynics out there?

Is there another plan being concocted to help soothe PRIVILEGE PROJECT FINANCE'S whopping £37 million losses? It’s hard to see how anyone would want to buy this ‘on-farm’ AD as a going concern as the Inspector has clearly limited its potential. The Inspector’s decision proved beyond doubt that the site location is completely unsuitable for anything requiring HGVs importing & exporting - and it has such a toxic history, so why don’t Privilege just get it liquidated and be done with it?

The peace and quiet that has resulted from the cessation of the HGVs and machinery noise at all hours, is quite remarkable. Many residents have commented on how it has been transformational – but of course that is what it was always like - before Crouchland Biogas decided to expand without permission.

As a community we will need to be super vigilant that no other inappropriate use rises from the ashes and we must hold the planners to account to ensure this – and we will.

Keep your banners up!

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Another company goes into administration - 8th December 2017


That makes 4 companies of which Leon Mekitarian is a director - that have gone into administration in the past few months;

Crouchland Biogas Ltd, ...
Farm Fuels Ltd,
Biomethane (Castle Eaton) Ltd,
and Crouchland Farms Ltd.

One does wonder how many employees he has had to advise this year, '(Sorry?) we can't pay your wages this month'

Maybe the 5 new companies he has formed this year will do better?
Lower Heath Biogas Ltd
Lower Drayton Biogas Ltd
Biogas Support Services Ltd (maybe counselling support?)
AD Organics Ltd.
Mekitarian Ltd - (last month, with address at Hardnips Barn)

On top of these new companies, he is still the sole director of;
Cowpow Ltd
Green Bubbles CO2 Ltd

and also shares a directorship with Gregory James Dunne (resident of Chile) of 'Biogas Renewable Energy Ltd'

Perhaps William Luttman-Johnson got into bed with the wrong person when he asked Leon Mekitarian to become a director of his farm at Crouchland?

Among wealth advisors, there is a saying: 'The first generation makes it, the second generation spends it, and the third generation blows it.' At Crouchland Farm it seems that the second generation has been omitted, whilst the third phase has been ably assisted by Leon Mekitarian, who can now add this to his list of failures.


Gas Bus Alliance

In March 2016 PORE received a letter stating “The Gas Alliance Group (including Gas Bus Alliance) no longer take any Biomethane from Crouchland Farms Ltd or Crouchland Biogas Ltd” and legal action is threatened should anyone “communicate any information to any Bodies or Persons which is contrary to this statement”. The signatory was Tony Griffiths, former General Manager - MAN UK bus operations.

A letter was also received stating that there was no commercial or other relationship with Crouchland.

It is interesting to therefore see that one of the current creditors of Crouchland Biogas is in fact GAS BUS ALLIANCE (to the tune of £18,480) with the last transaction on the 1st August 2017!

Past Crouchland Biogas Director, BARRY EVANS (who resigned on 29th March 2016) is a current Gas Bus Alliance Director.

Past Crouchland Biogas 'Financial Director Designate' WILLIAM CARR (resigned October 2016) is the current Chief Financial Officer of Gas Bus Alliance.