West Sussex County Times report Crouchlands Biogas, the company operating an anaerobic digestion plant at Crouchlands Farm in Plaistow & Ifold Parish, near Billingshurst, has gone into administration.
Read more at: http://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/news/business/crouchlands-biogas-in-adminstration-1-8091744
To: The West Sussex County Council – Planning Committee Members
Protect Rural Sussex Parishes from an unapproved industrial Biogas Plant
Crouchland Biogas Ltd. Plaistow, West Sussex enlarged, without planning permission, from a small on-farm Anaerobic Digestion facility to an Industrial-Scale Gas Plant. A retrospective planning application (WSCC/042/14/PS) is under consideration by West Sussex County Council. The WSCC Planning Committee are petitioned to refuse the application as it's detrimental to and not in the interests of the local communities.
Why is this important?
• 25Apr: Inquiry into 3 Appeals against Enforcement and Planning Refusal begins. Legal counsels for Parish Councils, WSCC and CDC, with independent experts to take part.
• 29Mar: Leon Mekitarian, Director Farm Fuel faces suspension, curtailment or disqualification of operator's licence in new Traffic Commissioner's Public Inquiry.
• 27Feb: Appointment of Philip Gerrard (also Director, Eastern Counties Finance 1 Ltd, with whom Crouchland hold a mortgage & debenture) and Andrew Vernau as Directors to Crouchland Biogas Ltd.
• 6 Feb: Statements of Case by WSCC, CDC & Parish Councils for remaining Appeals submitted.
• 27Jan: Farm Fuel called to new Traffic Commissioner’s Public Inquiry for alleged breaches of timing condition at company’s Woking operating centre and allegations of trailers used during suspension period.
• 23Jan: Crouchland submit 405 pages of new documents for Appeals rendering previous documents redundant as they disclose ‘new baseline’ for retrospective planning application refusal. The joint Parish Councils and legal counsel are left just 9 days to respond.
• 14Dec: The government confirms reformed Renewable Heat Incentive subsidy scheme. ‘all new Non-Domestic RHI applicants for accreditation and those seeking registration for injection of biomethane should have all necessary planning permissions in place before they are accredited / registered.’ It’s not implemented retrospectively so Crouchland still claim large subsidy.
• 30Nov: Farm Fuel licence suspension begins. No HGVs allowed to leave Woking Operating Centre for 2 weeks.
• 10Nov: After Farm Fuel licence suspension, CEO John Morea - Southern Gas Networks (SGN) confirms "We would expect the contractor in question to comply with the suspension and have informed Crouchland Biogas Ltd we won’t be accepting any biomethane from this particular gas transportation source during its suspension."
• 3Nov: Traffic Commissioner suspends Farm Fuel HGV licence for 2 weeks (1-15 Dec). The unauthorised use has been extensive, prolonged and the operator sought to conceal the extent of this.
• 30Sep: Crouchland Farms fined.
• 22Jul: Crouchland Farms plead guilty to illegally discharging polluting material to River Kird on 02Dec2013. No announcements yet on significant pollution events in 2015 & 2016.
• 18Jul: Ofgem respond to a FOI request and advise Crouchland have received £4,359,537 in RHI subsidy from financial year 2014/15.
• 22Jun: The Planning Inspectorate publish Appeal decision re: the Certificate of Lawful Use granted by WSCC. The appeal allowed in part. The Inspector concludes that WSCC’s refusal to grant a certificate of lawful use or development in respect of the two metal containers to aid gas conditioning for the biogas plant, attached to the LDC and the conditioning and exportation of biogas was not well-founded and that the appeal in respect of these items and activity should succeed. In respect of the separator and the flare, attached to the LDC, and the importation of waste and any other materials for anaerobic digestion from land outside the boundaries of Crouchland Farm, the Inspector concluded that WSCC’s refusal to grant a cert. of lawful use or development in respect of these items and activity was well-founded and that the appeal should fail. (APP/P3800/X/15/3137735).
• 27May: Crouchland seeks adjournment to EA legal case.
• 17May: Traffic Inquiry reconvenes.
• 11-12May: Appeal against Cert. of Lawfulness is heard.
• 29Apr: The Environment Agency announce legal proceedings against Crouchland Farms for Dec2013 pollution of River Kird.
• 29Mar: P.O.R.E receives letter stating “The Gas Alliance Group (including Gas Bus Alliance) no longer take any Biomethane from Crouchland Farms Ltd or Crouchland Biogas Ltd.” and threatening legal action should villagers “communicate any information to any Bodies or Persons which is contrary to this statement”. Tony Griffiths is signatory, former General Manager of MAN UK bus operations.
• 29 Mar: Barry Evans resigns from Crouchland Biogas.
• 16Mar: Another significant pollution incident occurs and while cleanup in progress SGN disassociate themselves stating Crouchland is separate and they have no corporate responsibility for the actions of this autonomous company. Contrary to CEO John Morea’s 2013 Annual Report that Crouchland was SGN's partner; and from an email to WSCC 28Aug2014 supporting the retrospective planning application, stating "Our pioneering partnership with Crouchland Biogas..." and though SGN have a fixed / floating charge on the property / undertakings of Crouchland Biogas.
• 4Mar: Crouchland apply to substantially vary EA environmental permit (EPR/CB3208XJ/V002).
• 12Jan: Farm Fuel called to Traffic Commissioner enquiry for breaches to Operator’s licence ie. using the farm as an unauthorised Operating Centre.
• Nov: Parish Councils launch planning fund for expert / legal counsel.
• Oct: Crouchland lodge Appeals against Enforcement Notices (to dismantle all equipment installed without planning permission & to stop operating as a commercial biogas plant); retrospective planning refusal and Cert. of Lawfulness.
• 1Sep: WSCC issue Cert. of Lawfulness excluding conditioning & export of gas, importation of waste & other materials for anaerobic digestion and many items of development.
• 16Jul: CDC issue 2 Enforcement Notices with staggered compliance dates for cease of use of land and 6mths for remaining requirements (PS/13/00015/CONCOU).
• 23Jun: The EA attends pollution incident on adjoining farm’s watercourse with significant impact on ecology & ability to water livestock.
• 16Jun: CDC inform WSCC they strongly object to granting Cert. of Lawfulness.
• 2Jun: WSCC pass CDC responsibility to investigate & serve Enforcement but are clear multiple planning breaches have occurred.
• For events prior to 2Jun15 contact PORE.
How it will be delivered
Email and Press Conference