As a result of the Engineers Report by Atkins Ltd (described as one of the world’s most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies), West Sussex County Council has now taken the decision to formally close ALL the public paths surrounding lagoon 3 at Crouchland Farm - on the grounds of public safety.
The Engineers report highlighted the design faults of the lagoon walls; the many slippages visible in the walls; and the risk to people and the environment. Our previous post was as follows;
The ENGINEERS REPORT ON LAGOON 3 has been sent to the Parish.
If you would like to read it, please email us on email@example.com
The site visit was 9 months ago (January 18) when the engineer was told that the disposal of the lagoon was imminent. Three months later (April 18) the engineer had written back to the Environment Agency telling them that he was concerned that little progress had been made emptying the lagoon. He advised them that the lagoon should be emptied as soon as possible or that works were carried out to stabilise the walls of the lagoon. We are not aware that either of these things have taken place even now in November.
He reported that significant lengths of the face of the embankment had slumped due to slope stability failures and that 50% of the eastern bank appeared to have failed. Complete failure of the embankment appears to be reliant on the integrity of the 2.5mm geomembrane lining!
He explained that 'The proximity of the buildings below the lagoon suggest that an uncontrolled release of the contents of the lagoon could endanger lives not in a community. Moreover, environmental/pollution consequences of a major release of the digestate would be immense and there would be high costs associated with the clean-up. These factors suggest that the lagoon is a high risk installation.'
The Engineer went on to make 4 recommendations, none of which we can confirm have happened. Crucially, none of the digestate has been removed - and none of the walls of the embankment have been stabilised.
We have asked to be sent a copy of an Emergency Plan to prevent an uncontrolled release of the contents of the lagoon. We have also asked what we should do if, whilst walking on the adjoining footpaths, the walls of the banks should fail.
The Environment Agency have also been asked why there has been no attempt, in light of the report they commissioned, to avert a disaster. The winter months are now upon us and with that the greater likelihood of heavy and prolonged rainfall,which can only increase the risk still further of failure of the lagoon banks . This is now a very serious matter. The EA have identified that the Lagoon is in danger of failing and there is little understanding of how the lagoon has been constructed, which would indicate that time is of the essence to act and remove the digestate immediately to a safe place; failure to do so promptly with the risks the EA have identified, would be a serious dereliction of duty.
The activity on site is regulated by the EA under a Permit and as such the EA is the authority responsible for requesting immediate action from the operator Crouchland Biogas Ltd and the Administrators FRP Advisory LLP and enforcing it via a formal notice.
The EA have also been requested to advise all householders and land owners who may be significantly adversely affected by failure of the lagoon, of the risks. In particular the owner and tenant of Crouchland House which sits directly below the lagoon. Additional measures should be taken to protect this Grade II Listed building which is one of the foremost houses in the Parish.