PLANS for a large anaerobic digester plant to process the slurry produced from dairy cattle at Souber Dairy, in Bank Newton, have been given the go ahead.

Members of Craven District Council’s planning committee were told the applicant, John Dodgson, was using the digester exclusively for his own farm with no slurry being brought in from other farms.

The application had been brought to committee by ward councillor Simon Myers following public interest.

His agent, John Akrigg, said the plant was large enough to deal with slurry from 400 cows and that the dairy herd at Souber dairy totalled 500, thus negating any fear that it was going to be used an a money-making enterprise.

Bank Newton Parish Meeting had raised concerns about slurry being brought in from other farms. They were also concerned about noise from traffic movement and damage to the Grade II listed canal bridge which had no current weight limit on it.

Rachel Berry, of Newton Grange Farm, said she thought the development was too large.

“It is industrial in scale and so is the visual impact. It will lead to greater prominence,” she said adding she also feared the canal bridge would be put under too great a strain.

The application, which had been recommended for approval, would reduce the carbon footprint of the farm by eliminating emissions, according to the applicant’s submission. The plant would generate around 42 kilo watts of electricity per annum, of which the farm used around 44 kilo watts.

“The farm would be 80 per cent self-sufficient in electricity,” added Mr Akrigg.

Cllr Brian Shuttleworth had also raised concerns with a torch/beacon being visible but Mr Akrigg said the torch would only ignite if there was a problem and was solely to prevent an explosion from excess gas.

“It is a relief mechanism and a sign it is not working. It would not be lit all the time,” Mr Akrigg said.

Highways stated the development should only be refused on highway grounds if there was to be an unacceptable impact on highway safety and offered no objections.

A transport statement noted there would be 460 fewer tanker loads of slurry removed from the roads as a result of the development. Currently 1,800 tanker loads are generated on site each year. There would also be a 50 per cent reduction in HGV accessing the site to deliver sawdust.

Of the treated slurry produced on site, 50 per cent would be utilised on the home farm and the rest exported to land within the management of the farm business

Members gave delegated authority to officers to approve the plans subject to a report from the Canal and River Trust, in relation to the canal bridge, outlining no substantive objections.