Kirby Bellars eco village plans are rejected

An artist's impression showing the entrance to the proposed Kirby Bellars eco village and its onsite visitor's centre EMN-150808-132025001
An artist's impression showing the entrance to the proposed Kirby Bellars eco village and its onsite visitor's centre EMN-150808-132025001
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Ambitious plans to create an eco village in Kirby Bellars, turning green waste into electricity to power 49 homes, have been scuppered.

It had been proposed that an anaerobic digester would have been able to receive up to 10,000 tons of sewerage, garden and other green biodegradable waste per year and convert it into power and fuel for the homes.

A visitor’s centre had also been proposed to be built as part of the development, enabling schools and members of the public to learn about the environment and sustainable living, and a small shop where bi-products from the digester would have been sold along with products from local farmers.

But the plans caused a stink with many villagers in Kirby Bellars who raised numerous concerns. These included the increased traffic going to and from the site, which would have been accessed from the A607, the village being classed as ‘unsustainable’ for additional developments and the proposed development falling outside the village envelope.

Objectors were also concerned about smells coming from the digester though the applicants said no odours would be emitted as it would be sealed.

Melton Council’s planning committee discussed the outline planning application on Thursday. Councillors heard that objections had been raised by numerous consultees including the highways authority, Leicestershire County Council’s waste and minerals authority and Kirby Bellars Parish Council.

Speaking at the meeting parish councillor Alan Batten said: “We believe it wouldn’t be so much an eco village but an environmental disaster. Residents feels this is purely a commercial enterprise. Our primary concerns are the increase in traffic, including lorries delivering waste, odours from the digester and sustainability. The whole enterprise is untenable.”

James Botterill, on behalf of the agents HSSP Architects, told councillors the benefits of anaerobic digestion were widely recognised in other countries.

He said: “You have a fantastic opportunity to embrace the concept and have the same forward thinking vision of our European neighbours. All of the concerns raised are around the detail. If you support us the applicant can develop that detail that people are so keen to understand.

“The whole vision is that this can be a lot more than just a commercial enterprise. It could be a fantastic opportunity to show the public and schools how this technology works.”

Many councillors felt the proposals were interesting and exciting, adding they weren’t against the principle of the development but in this case it would be in the wrong place.

After debating issues raised the committee voted to refuse the application on grounds including the development being in an unsustainable location, highway safety concerns and the proposal being contrary to waste planning policies.