Preparing for the new planning application

We see that surveyors have been out again preparing for the new planning application at Crouchlands, measuring up Rickmans and Foxbridge Lane. Are we going to see another application that looks to bring large HGVs down our narrow lanes?

We have seen some of the gas plant dismantled and removed, but there’s still plenty to get rid of in order to meet the Inspectors ruling – namely that huge unlawful lagoon and enormous digester 3.

The Consulting Engineers 'Plandescil' have been involved in AD and Pig Farms as well as Environmental assessments, so we can expect a new planning application. Let’s hope that it respects the inspector's decision that the location is entirely unsuitable for a large AD plant, that the roads are unsuitable for large HGVs and high levels of traffic and that the AD cannot import feedstock.

Of course there is still no consultation with this community; which is very strange considering that was seen as a significant failure on the part of the previous management.

We will of course continue to ensure that the councils and the Environment Agency protect this rural area as the inspector ruled.


Crouchlands Update

After years of correspondence with John Morea, Chief Executive Officer of SGN, he tells us that SGN plan to remove their gas conditioning equipment from Crouchland Farm by the end of August - that's just 8 weeks time. At long last!

Once that is complete, we trust we will begin to see progress with the emptying and restoring of lagoons 3 and 4.

Further to that we await full restoration of Rainbow Field (the dump field).


Interesting indeed! Phil Gerrard of Privilege Finance appointed to board of ADBA........

We see that PHIL GERRARD from PRIVILEGE FINANCE has been appointed to the board of ADBA, the trade association for the Anaerobic Digestion industry.

Mr Gerrard was a director of CROUCHLAND BIOGAS from 27th February 2017. Privilege Finance were the investors providing funds for Crouchland Biogas (over £40 million), which was hardly been a poster girl for the industry; having been found to have developed unlawfully and of course having had several environmental spills from AD lagoons which had no EA permit to hold the digestate.

We understand that Privilege run several other AD businesses and believe they do not suffer from the issues that Crouchland did, so we’re hoping Crouchland was a one-off (unless anyone knows otherwise) and are hoping that lessons from the Crouchland Biogas saga have been fully learnt.

Mr Gerrard says in this press release; 'At Privilege we play an important role in not just providing AD projects with finance, but also advising on their ongoing development and day to day management issues. We take a long term, sustainable approach to our infrastructure lending which encompasses a strategic vision for the projects we support.”

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Fancy that!

Next week, you can buy yourself a 'Timber Framed TWIN CAR PORT approx 10m x 6m' at Crouchland Farm.

Believe it or not it's actually the structure that Aardvark EM insisted was a 'WOODSTORE' in the dismissed appeal, after the applicant built it without planning consent in ancient woodland.

At least the administrators have corrected Aardvark EM, the Environmental Consultants who fought for years supporting Crouchland Biogas Ltd.

It's nigh on impossible to understand why Aardvark EM's sister company, Aardvark Certification Limited (ACL), are the company chosen by ADBA to run the new national ‘AD Certification Scheme'.

Aardvark EM's website states proudly 'Specialising in solution provision we are not afraid to think laterally and out of the box. We provide innovative processes, designs and planning solutions for major infrastructure projects including power generation, wastewater treatment, industrial and environmental clean-ups. We understand the importance of delivering robust technical data to identify, quantify and mitigate potential environmental impacts meeting regulator, client and investor requirements.'

They certainly thought laterally; failed to produce any solutions - and certainly did not mitigate the environmental impacts which caused widespread pollution in our parishes. In fact they were not visible during the weeks of clean up operations. They also failed to protect the health of so many trees at Crouchland Farm.......

Needless to say their website talks of a few case-studies, but absolutely no mention of the carbuncle of a case that they consulted and drove at Crouchland Biogas.

Here is the link to the car port!…/Crou…/item/160696_No_Make_No_Type


Clay SLIPPAGES in the walls of lagoon 3

In November 2015 (two and a half years ago) a comprehensive inspection of lagoon 3 was made by a Chartered Geologist. This included a walkover survey and a review of correspondence and documentation relating to the original construction of the lagoon.

It was noted that "no as-built documentation has been available for examination as Crouchlands Biogas is currently engaged in a legal action with the contractor concerning the installation of the lagoon. It is not possible to fully confirm the construction details of Lagoon 3, particularly the geomembrane lining system, without reviewing the as-built construction details."

The geologist’s report included these comments about the slippages that were already visible in the clay banks;

"The slippages will continue to move and are likely, in time, to affect the outer parts of the crest of the embankment. The slips are occurring because the embankment has been constructed at slopes that are too steep for long-term stability."

"In time, the slippages will expose clay deeper in the embankment, leading to progressive failure."

"In summary, the lagoon embankment has some shallow soil slippages which are not currently a cause for concern. However, the embankment is too steep for long-term performance."

So here we are - two and a half years later with a lagoon which;

1. is full to its limit; 
2. has no planning consent; 
3. has no Environment Agency permit to store the contained digestate
4. is built on a site with a history of two lagoon failures which caused widespread pollution. 
5. has banks that are too steep for long term stability
6. has further slippages in the walls of the embankment (photos taken last week)

The EA have told us that they do not hold any information about the plans for the emptying of this lagoon, even though they themselves have not granted them a permit to hold the stored digestate. So it seems that the councils are therefore responsible for the emptying and restoration of the lagoon - and they have refused our freedom of information request to ask what is planned.

Does anyone else have any concerns as to the long term safety of this unlawful lagoon? It wouldn't take much for the councils and the EA to share their plans and to reassure put our minds at rest. Unless of course there is an alternative plan.......


The Environment Agency has failed us

Look what happened the last time that the EA allowed the storage of digestate in a unpermitted lagoon.

That was in 2014 and 2015 when the EA knew (because we told them) that Crouchland Biogas was storing digestate (containing plastics from foodwaste) in lagoon 2. The EA did absolutely nothing to stop the storage of digestate until that lagoon catastrophically overflowed due to mechanical failure of machinery and caused widespread pollution including the loss of 70 acres of prime grazing land for the neighbouring farmer.

So 3-4 years on, there’s been no prosecution by the EA for the 2015 or 2016 pollutions and, can you believe it, we now have the situation that the EA know again that digestate is being stored in another, and much larger, unpermitted lagoon (lagoon 3).

Forget the planning enforcement notices, this is separate to planning………..this is an EA issue only. We have now been advised that our FOI request to learn what is happening with lagoon 3 has been turned down. Understanding what is going on at lagoon 3 is absolutely in the public interest and we have the right to join in the debate and challenge decisions.

Photo 1 shows where the digestate poured over the edge of lagoon 2 in June 2015.
Photo 2 shows the path of the spill, which continued for around 1.5 kilometres through farmland and ancient woodland.

Nine months later yet another lagoon (4) overflowed, covering local land and causing death of all aquatic invertebrates for 2 kilometres. Over 50 EA staff were involved in the clear up operation from this polluting spill, taking over 3 weeks.

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Interim Administrators Report published

A fascinating read.

The Crouchland Biogas legal team were apparently confident of success at last year's 10 day Planning Inquiry!

We all await with interest the new planning application. Please be ready to respond to this.

Meanwhile the cows have gone, the plant is quiet and peace is restored to this community.

At least the new solar panels will provide a little income, if only spring would arrive.

The unlawful lagoon is now the fullest we've ever seen it.…/07611267/filing-history


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.