WSCC closes all footpaths around lagoon 3 in the interest of public safety


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.

https://www.atkinsglobal.com/en-gb

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 help@pore.org.uk

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.

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Sale of Crouchland Farm

We understand that in the bidding for Crouchland Farm last week, an adjoining landowner has offered over £5 million for the farm, INCLUDING THE LAGOON AND ITS CLEAR UP.

Hopefully sense will prevail and the administrators will accept the dual benefit of a generous offer and a solution to the lagoon clear up, at last.

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Engineers report on lagoon 3

The ENGINEERS REPORT ON LAGOON 3 has been sent to the Parish.

If you would like to read it, please email us on help@pore.org.uk

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.

PS this is NOT a photo of lagoon 3

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Two year extension granted for enforcement at Crouchland Farm

CDC planning committee agreed today to a two year extension to the enforcement notice regarding the decommissioning of lagoon 3.

This now takes the date of compliance to May 2021 and will include the largest Digester 3, Lagoon 3, plus the Separator, Lagoon 4 and Pipework (all apparently needed for the decommissioning of lagoon 3).

So these parts of infrastructure will now remain for yet another 30 months, whilst funding and a contractor is hopefully found for the decommissioning process

Photo 1 shows the lagoon 3 last week
Photo 2 shows lagoon 4 in the foreground with digester 3 on the left and the separator on the right
Photo 3 shows the construction of digester 3 in July 2013 - and which still needs to be removed with the ground returned to its original state

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Location of 3rd digester 10th July 2013.JPG


Watch catch-up of BBC SOUTH from last night, after the main 6pm and 10pm news, for coverage and comment from our community representatives, plus the Environment Agency.

Scroll along the bar to 04:20

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bn88pl/south-today-evening-news-17102018

Listen to yesterday morning's coverage before the planning meeting on Radio Sussex - scroll the bar to 1.41.45; https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p06lv2k0

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CDC Planning Committee Meeting TODAY

If you are planning to attend the Chichester District Council Planning Committee Meeting TODAY starting at 9.30am, the Crouchland Farm item 12 is estimated to start around 11.30am, but do get there by 11am to be safe.

Representatives from the community will be speaking.

http://chichester.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=134&MId=1005&Ver=4

or click on 17th October Agenda here;

http://chichester.moderngov.co.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CommitteeId=134

After a whole year, the administrators give Council a 7 day deadline!

So after more than a year the Administrator has written to CDC telling them that they can't comply with the enforcement notices to clear up the digestate lagoon 3.

They claim that Privilege Project Finance (the financial backer of Crouchlands Biogas), who are already down over £50m, would, in principle, be prepared to fork out another £5m to fund the clear up, but only if CDC extend the enforcement deadline for another 2 years until 2021.

Oh, and they gave CDC just seven days to confirm that the enforcement deadline would be extended!

That deadline expired on the 8th October. If CDC don't extend the deadline, Privilege will keep the farm but not the digestate lagoon, leaving the clear up cost to the taxpayer.

The letter written to CDC is shown below. In our view to 'Agree in principle' is not exactly a guarantee, and hardly fills one with comfort or confidence that they will clear up the environmental mess which they themselves funded.

http://chichester.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s12856/Planning%20Enforcement%20Report%20-%20Crouchland%20Farm%20Rickmans%20Lane%20Kirdford%20Billingshurst%20West%20Sussex.pdf

Or try this link - see item no 12 and click on Appendix B;

http://chichester.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=134&MId=1005&Ver=4

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Will we have to foot the £5 million decommissioning bill?

TAX PAYERS MAY HAVE TO FOOT THE DECOMMISSIONING BILL FOR LAGOON 3 - ESTIMATED BY THE ADMINISTRATORS TO BE £5 MILLION.

A HUGE COST DUE TO THE CONTENTS OF THE LAGOON BEING DEEMED AS CHEMICALLY UNSTABLE HAZARDOUS WASTE, WHICH NEEDS SCREENING AND CLEANING. THE WALLS OF THE LAGOON MAY FAIL IN TIME AND THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT PROSECUTION FOR POLLUTION FROM A POTENTIAL LEAK (why worry about that when the Environment Agency have failed to prosecute for the TWO pollutions from enormous leaks from those lagoons in June 2015 and March 2016?)

NO EMPTYING OF LAGOON 3 HAS TAKEN PLACE IN THE LAST YEAR AS APPARENTLY NO CONTRACTOR WILL TOUCH IT. ANY COMPANY OUT THERE INTERESTED?

The Environment Agency told us over the past 5 years that they regularly tested the digestate, so it comes as a surprise that the contents of the lagoon are now deemed to be so hazardous that they need screening and cleaning before spreading to land. Why did the EA give a permit for this lagoon - when there were no drawings for it; there was no secondary containment; the underground pipes meant to take the gas to the biogas plant were never connected and the contents were so hazardous?

MUCH MORE TO COME.

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ARE THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY FAILING TO PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT?

The ENVIRONMENT AGENCY should prosecute for the two widespread pollutions in our villages in 2015 and 2016, but we are not receiving any information from the Environment Agency regarding any prosecutions for these devastating digestate pollutions 3 years ago. Perhaps they won't prosecute anyone?

Perhaps Edward Sault from the BBC, who covered the March 2016 pollution would be interested to investigate what's happening? Or any other journalists..............we have all the details and photos from those events.

Are the Environment Agency failing us, and the environment they are supposed to protect?

One of our residents reported the March 2016 pollution; then was asked to give a very lengthy, detailed statement and hand over photographs - but has had no update whatsoever (after 2 1/2 years) on how that information is being handled.

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Sunday Times Coverage

The 'SUNDAY TIMES' yesterday;

Well it seems that a string of insolvencies in the AD sector has left lenders (such as Privilege Finance in the case of Crouchland Biogas) and investors questioning the wisdom of AD plants.

We would suggest that these lenders and investors only needed to have developed the wisdom to insist on securing planning consent before, for example, committing their £42 million to fund Crouchland Biogas. Had they done that, they would not have lost their money.

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Please give your view to the Renewable Energy Magazine!

THE BEST OF A BAD LOT?

Can you believe that Aardvark EM Ltd, the consultants for Crouchland Biogas have won 'Best Anaerobic Digestion Support (Legal, Accounting, Consulting)' !!

PORE supporters - take a minute to give your view on Aardvark EM Ltd

You may like to leave your comment on this company which supported Crouchland Biogas at every turn, at every appeal and inquiry. Nick Leaney spoke in Horsham when the retrospective planning application was originally being considered; and at further inquiries. Mark Clayton and Nick Leaney were expert witnesses at the 10 day planning inquiry in summer 2017.

Let the Renewable Energy magazine know how wronged this community was and the effect it had on us.  So much to write - perhaps the magazine would like to come and visit us and we can tell our incredible story.

You can click on the page below and leave a comment.

https://www.renewableenergymagazine.com/biogas/ad-amp-biogas-industry-awards-ceremony-2018-20180712

 

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