The following are questions asked by visitors to the site using the contact screen, and our responses thereto, edited where appropriate:
Q: How many additional vehicle movements (and what type and size of vehicles), will be required to 'feed' the plant?
A: We are having a detailed traffic survey done, which is in train at the moment and should be completed within the next fortnight. We will post it onto the website as soon as it is available. This survey will cover, amongst other things, all movements of feedstock (of different types) into the plant, and all movements of both solid and liquid digestate out of the plant, including their frequency dispersal, and both size and type of vehicle. It is undeniable that there will be increased vehicle movements on the stretch of Icknield road between the A4074 and the plant, although the net increase is not likely to be great because we will be eliminating a number of journeys that are currently made to take grain to market. Please rest assured that the traffic survey will provide an enormous amount of detail, and will hopefully answer this question in full.
Q: Where will these vehicles be coming from and, hence what routes will they be using?
A: See answer to the previous question above. The detailed traffic assessment will cover this.
Q: What are the dimensions of the main parts of the plant?
A: The largest structures on the plant are the two digesters and the digestate storage bags. The two digesters each have a radius of just under 30m, and will be dug in to a depth of approx. 5m, meaning that the wall height above ground will be approx. 3m, with a conical roof on top to a further peak height of 8m, meaning total maximum height above ground of 11m. The 2 digestate storage bags measure approximately 50m x 25m, and will have a peak height when full of approx. 5m.
Q: What provisions are being made additional screening?
A: The Landscape consultants are preparing a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment which includes provision for further screening, which is likely to consist largely of the planting of hedgerows, shrubs and trees.
Q: Can you please forward JPG images of the photo montages that you are to display at the public meeting on 24/10?
A: The photomontages are being produced as part of the LVIA, and as soon as they are available we will post them onto the website. This is likely to be in a week or so. Note: The photomontages are now available to view here.
Q: During the construction period - do you have an outline project plan as to when there will be most activity and to the level of heavy construction traffic involved? (Articulated lorries, cement mixers etc)? What tonnage of equipment to be brought to site?
A: The timetable envisages construction beginning in April/May next year. The first works will obviously be groundworks, and thereafter the concrete elements will be constructed, and finally the plant will be installed. A lot of the plant is containerised. The entire construction period will take approximately 6 months. If we go to formal planning, we will commission a traffic management plan for the construction phase which will give full details of the nature and extent of construction traffic throughout the period.
Q: Do you have any feedback as to SODC policy/approach to the development of green energy sources in an AONB ? (I appreciate that there is a biogas plant in Didcot, but that is at the water treatment works, already an industrial site)
A: The SODC Core Strategy (effective December 2012) contains a strong presumption in favour of renewable energy development. Policy CSQ1 is the relevant section:
Policy CSQ1 Renewable Energy
Proposals for development for the generation of energy from renewable resources will be permitted provided any adverse impact on the landscape, heritage and biodiversity of an area, traffic generation or the amenities of local communities is outweighed by wider environmental, social, economic or other benefits.
Balanced against this core principle is of course the obligation to protect the AONB, and the Core Strategy goes on to identify that whilst the likelihood is that most renewable energy generation in the region is likely to come from wind and biomass, wind projects should be sited outside of the AONB, which implies that biomass projects within the AONB are specifically contemplated, subject to the benefits outweighing any adverse imacts. To that end, the landscape and visual aspects of the proposal are key, and are the focus of much of our attention in terms of the design of the plant. You are quite right that the Didcot plant is on an industrial site. There is a much larger AD plant closer to home on the A4074 at Preston Crowmarsh, which commenced operations earlier this year and deals with much of South Oxfordshire’s food waste (and so again is very much an industrial site). This plant is right on the edge of the AONB, although not within it, and is significantly bigger, taller and more industrial than what we are proposing at Icknield Farm, which is designed as far as possible to have an agricultural feel to it, rather than an industrial feel.