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!

Smell a Rat.png

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.


What happens to lagoon 3?

What happens to the lagoon?

Exactly how, and by whom - will this lagoon, full of digestate, be returned to its former state of a pasture field?

The unlawful equipment will hopefully just be dismantled and taken away, but the lagoon will be more tricky. Whose responsibility is it? What about the gas under the cover?

Unimaginable and extraordinary losses at Crouchland Biogas Ltd


The deficit is so mind-numbingly huge for this ‘unlawful’ operation. Certainly the most obvious question is “How was this allowed to happen?” and for this insolvent and unlawful company to hold people and planet to ransom for so long?

Clearly the shareholders (pages 37-40 ) have lost everything and presumably their shareholder loans too.

Privilege Loans (£37 million) have jointly and severally been guaranteed by Leon Mekitarian and William Luttman-Johnson. It is beyond belief that William Luttman-Johnson would have risked losing everything by signing these guarantees.

The administrator seems to say that the accounts are incomplete, inter-company balances don’t reconcile and basically the whole situation has been out of control for months, with the company existing hand to mouth.…/07611267/filing-history

Plaistow resident demands answers from CEO John Morea, at SGN

PORE has been given this copy of a letter from a local resident - sent to Mr John Morea, Chief Executive Officer of SGN.

SGN own and operate the substantial gas conditioning plant at Crouchland Biogas and have a commercial contract with Crouchland Biogas Ltd to carry out the conditioning of the gas produced. SGN (John Morea) signed a 20 year partnership with Crouchland Biogas Ltd in 2013 without planning consent, or even a planning application in place.

Other residents may also feel inclined to write to Mr Morea at SGN or/and Mr Alistair Phillips-Davies at SEE PLC, Inveralmond House, 200 Dunkeld Road, Perth, PH1 3AQ.

They may also want to question why a company entrusted with the operation of a highly complex infrastructure network would invest £4.5 million in a basket case of a company now with debts of £37 million - and who in the last year have apparently made a loss of £11 million on a £2.6 million turnover!

Exactly where the millions of pounds have gone is the subject of much speculation and we would welcome Mr Morea's thoughts and comments.

11th October 2017

SGN Chief Executives Office
St Lawrence House
Station Approach
Surrey RH6 9HJ
Fao: Mr John Morea

Dear Mr Morea,


With reference to your letter dated 29th August 2017, you will now be aware that what you describe as the democratic planning process has now been concluded and the Planning Inspectorate have published a decision dismissing all of Crouchland's appeals and upholding the enforcement notices.

Now this last vestige of your defence for SGN's continued support of this morally and commercially bankrupt company has disappeared, I trust you will confirm that SGN will dissolve what remains of your partnership and remove the unlawful equipment.
Noting that SGN have apparently invested £4.57 million into a facility that was constructed without planning permission would suggest wrong doing that is more than simply commercial incompetence. I can but hope a full detailed forensic investigation will be undertaken into SGN's involvement and the culpable individuals.

Over the past years whilst this plant has been operating at a commercial level I, and many others, have suffered from the loss of our right to the peaceful enjoyment of our property. It is SGN's continued support that has enabled the plant to operate at such a level. The Parish Council and local community as a whole are deserving, and expect, recompense from SGN for the years of disturbance and expense of fighting this SGN-supported unlawful operation.

Yours sincerely

Can you help - and press reports........

  1. IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION OR CONCERNS REGARDING THE WAY IN WHICH THE CROUCHLAND BIOGAS BUSINESS HAS BEEN CONDUCTED, or have information regarding potential recoveries for the state, please contact the Administrators as soon as possible. Do contact us (by private message or email if you would prefer, or if you need the administrators' contact details. Remember that around £40 million is owed to the main creditor - how has this happened and who is responsible?

  2. The administrators for Crouchland Biogas are required to establish what assets the company owns and to consider the way in which the Company’s business has been conducted, in order that under the provisions of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, a report can be issued to the Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy on the conduct of the Directors.

  3. For your information the current Directors are;
    Leon Mekitarian,
    Ewen Angus Cameron,
    William Luttman-Johnson
    Philip Gerrard,
    and Andrew Vernau.

    Directors who resigned recently are;
    Barry Evans
    and Graham Woolfman.

    Part of the Administrators schedule of work is to ‘Consider money laundering regulations and to perform immediate checks'.

    Please contact the administrators if you have any information that you think may be helpful.


    Farmers Weekly;…/west-sussex-biogas-business-loses-p…

    Midhurst and Petworth Observer...…/villagers-win-their-…

    Landmark Chambers

    39 Essex Chambers…/

    Josef Ransley…/crouchlands-bi…/

Decision made! Planning Inspector dismisses all the appeals!

All the Crouchland Biogas appeals have been dismissed by the Planning Inspector!

Put simply, this means that what they have done is unlawful and must stop. All the unauthorised equipment must be removed and the lagoons must be emptied and returned to their former state.

There is a possibility for Crouchland Biogas Ltd (or in fact the Administrators, FRP Advisory) to appeal this decision through the High Court but only on points of law ( if they believe the inspector has erre...d in law) - so we will have to wait and see.

This is a very positive decision for our community. The Inspector recognised the harm and detriment to our rural environment and the safety issues of the unlawful operation.

The decision means they have 1 month to cease unlawful operations (e.g. the import of feedstock from outside the farm and the use of the unauthorised equipment) and 18 months to dismantle all unauthorised equipment including the huge lagoon.

They can still operate the original, permitted, small scale on-farm AD which the community supported.

This sorry affair should never have been allowed to arise and has taken over 4 years and tens of thousands of pounds of our communities resources. We firmly believed in our cause and felt compelled to fight the injustice. Many lessons have been learnt; none more important than to never underestimate the passion and energy of a community to protect itself and it's environment when it has been wronged.

We will be calling on SGN the national gas company that has supported this unlawful activity to now do the right thing and remove its unauthorised gas conditioning equipment - the least they can do for the upset and distress they have helped cause.

Thank you to everyone for their continued support, including those from further afield and even those in the AD community who just knew that this site was dragging down the reputation of the AD Industry. Huge thanks to our Parish Councils, our legal team and our experts who have given time, money and substantial effort to get to this point. Despite all the thank yous, we still feel let down by certain organisations who failed to stop/slow this company when the alarm bells were ringing loudly. We hope lessons have been learnt here too.

It is not the end of the story, but a very significant step forward in returning this area to its rural tranquil environment.


Boxal Bridge in Kirdford - action needed by this friday!

As Crouchlands is quiet, we felt that our local supporters would be very interested to read of a heritage site down the road in Kirdford which needs your attention by Friday.

West Sussex County Council has announced that they intend to replace Boxal Bridge and have placed the issue in their forward Plan for October. (CLICK ON THE LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS ARTICLE TO SEE A PHOTO OF THE BRIDGE)


-          The bridge is safe and has passed the last 7 inspections (done every 2 years) and the next one will take place in 2019.

-          The bridge appears on an 1836 map.  Three independent Highways engineers agree it is in need of some attention but NOT REPLACEMENT.

-          It is a community asset in the Kirdford Neighbourhood Plan and listed as a heritage asset in Chichester District plan.

-          It is one of 4 bridges giving access to and from the village, two of which are listed.

-          The petition organised by KKWG to save the bridge in 2015 called for it NOT to be demolished attracted 3,376 signatures and triggered a WSCC Committee meeting.

-          At that meeting, WSCC adopted a resolution, October 16th, 2015

-          “that WSCC Highways work closely with the Kirdford and WG Parish Councils to explore the safest and most acceptable project for the future of the bridge, taking into account the rural environment as well as architectural and historical merit." 

-          Such close working has not happened.

-          Both Parishes OBJECT as they have done since 2013

-          The current plan FOR REPLACEMENT is unacceptable.


The decision is required for the replacement of Boxal Bridge, which currently suffers from numerous structural and safety issues.  The bridge is located on the borders of the parishes of Kirdford and Wisborough Green and carries the C109 over Boxal Brook.

“There has been extensive local objection to the proposal to replace the bridge, including a large public petition.  Other options have been considered for the scheme addresses all of the issues and will minimise future maintenance costs to the council.

“The Cabinet Minister will be asked to agree to the development of a scheme for the full replace-ment of Boxal Bridge.”

Decision will be made by;

Cabinet Member for Highways + Infrastructure – Bob Lanzer, Crawley

0330 222 2871 (Cabinet office); Local issues 01293 884789

Decision Month

October 2017


Kirdford + WG Parish council, Local CC member, any other relevant stakeholders


RICHARD HAMMOND,                   














Cabinet Office: 0330 222 3838