Monday, 11 October 2010

"The pong is awful"

John Craven at the Ludlow biodigester
Those are the words used on yesterday's edition of the BBC's 'Country Tracks' by veteran presenter John Craven to describe the stench made by the methane biodigester plant in Ludlow -- the model for the planned biodigester to be built in Bodffordd. In fact Ecoparc Môn, the company pushing the plans, organised a trip for councillors and some residents to see the very same Ludlow biodigester back in 2009 in order to allay their fears about smells -- and now John Craven has confirmed what was long been suspected by Bodffordd villagers: that such a plant will produce an 'awful pong'.

Proponents of biodigesters have always been at pains to point out that the anaerobic digesters themselves do not produce any smells as they are completely sealed -- however this appears to be a red herring. As was made amply clear from yesterday's 'Country Tracks' programme (view it here, forward to around 20m15s) it is the 'staging area' where the food waste is delivered and shredded before being fed into the biodigesters which actually produces the smells.

As the council has granted planning permission and the campaigners against it have been refused a judicial review, there seems little more that Bodffordd villagers can do to prevent the scheme going ahead. That notwithstanding there will be a public meeting this evening from 7.30pm at the Bodffordd Community Centre, which is part of the primary school building. All interested parties are asked to attend.

The issue at stake here is not that people are opposed to the concept of turning food waste into energy; people are opposed to the frankly stupid decision to site the plant at Mona Industrial Estate, where prevailing winds will blow odours over the nearby village of Bodffordd. It would have made far more sense to locate the plant next to either an existing council tip, next to the abattoir in Gaerwen (where the proponents of the scheme plan to acquire most of the food waste anyway) or on the edge of the island where the smells could be safely left to waft over towards Ireland. As Anglesey County Council struggles to regain the trust of residents, it is foolish decisions like these which will continue to prove that the council is not being run in the best interests of Islanders.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there are real concerns about the Bodffordd digester as proposed.

But it's fair to point out a couple of things (and I tend to disfavour, rather than favour the Bodffordd site):

(1) The wind direction does indeed tend to settle predominantly SW to W, but a roughly equal fraction of the year, it blows from E to SE directions. Therefore the lowest impact on human populations on Anglesey would come with a siting on the north coast, where it would generally blow out to sea.

(2) John Craven complains of the pong whilst evidently being within a waste loading building. He isn't outside. It's at least possible that most of the smell is removed before it gets emitted into the open air. Modern loading bays can be designed to as to reduce emissions to open air.

(3) What to do with the waste? We continue to chuck so much away, landfill sites are nearly full and expensive to use now, and individual homes are effectively discouraged now from home composting because the Council collects food waste in those awful little brown bins. We have one bin-sized plastic compost bin for four people, and it never gets full, such is its efficiency.

(4) If the Bodffordd plant does produce a level of smell that constitutes a nuisance, then a civil case can be brought. It's not necessarily as difficult as you might think for odours, as this case, fought successfully by a local couple against a pile of poo dumped next to their home, demonstrates. The case, before the claimants won at the High Court, was picked up by the Daily Post here:

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/2007/09/17/row-over-200-tonne-manure-heap-on-anglesey-55578-19800181/

The detailed judgement is here:

http://www.richardbuxton.co.uk/v3.0/?q=node/416

Groundhog Day said...
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another anon and me said...

I saw the original report on Countryfile, and was somewhat surprised as to the conclusion you reached, and therefore I watched the item again. John Craven does say ‘the pong is awful’ but that is about the rotting waste, like the smell from the brown recycling bins we have at home.

As explained in the programme the waste is transferred into sealed units, where bacteria breaks down the waste to produce methane, that is then used to produce electricity (it has to be sealed units to catch the methane). What he did not say, as you seem to imply is that there is an awful pong from the biodigester itself, especially outside. In fact the item as a whole is positive, reporting its ‘a better way’ and there are ‘other advantages to the scheme’. Of course as discussed in the programme, it would be better if we reduced food waste

You say it’s a stupid decision because of the smell, so that’s no dairy farms, pig farms, chicken processing units, or any manufacturing plant that may produce smell ever being built up wind of small villages.

Of course not forgetting the massive fuss about the extension to the sewage plant in Holyhead, which similarly it was claimed would be smelly, but after being build was actually found to be better than the old plant.

I know what the real fuss is about, and it is not about the people of Bodffordd.

Anonymous said...

From BBC Shropshire

"But surely the biodigester would smell terrible? Well, no. Six weeks after it began to operate, people from a neighbouring unit went round to ask when it was due to start - they hadn't noticed.

So with the biodigester, we seem to be in a win-win situation. You get rid of your rubbish and in return we get useful products. But this is one monster we need to look after so it can look after us."

see:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/content/articles/2006/05/19/ludlow_biodigester_feature.shtml

Anonymous said...

see:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/content/articles/2006/05/19/ludlow_biodigester_feature.shtml

Anonymous said...

one more try see with web address

www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/

content/articles/2006/05/19

/ludlow_biodigester_feature.shtml

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Another anon and me -

John Craven was indeed inside the staging area when he said the pong was awful - you argue that this smell is contained within the plant itself and not released outside. This may be so, but the point is that the concentration of food waste in one place produces very strong and unpleasant odours. It remains to be seen if these odours do not "leak" outside.

"In fact the item as a whole is positive, reporting its ‘a better way’ and there are ‘other advantages to the scheme’."

As I wrote above, the conflict is not about using food waste to create electricity - I'm sure everyone can agree on that; the conflict is whether bodffordd is really the optimum location for the plant.

"You say it’s a stupid decision because of the smell, so that’s no dairy farms, pig farms, chicken processing units, or any manufacturing plant that may produce smell ever being built up wind of small villages."

I think we all recognise there is a big difference between the smell of rotting food waste, and that produced by dairy, pig farms etc.

"I know what the real fuss is about, and it is not about the people of Bodffordd."

I'm not so sure.

another anon and me said...

Smell is a gas, normally a by-product of bacteria, it therefore depends on the concentration of said gas. A bad smell in worse in a small room than outdoors. Smell is dissipated easily by wind, as it reduces the concentration of the gas. On the coast, i.e. you smell the so called ozone when it’s has been warm and calm for a number of days.

You say “I think we all recognise there is a big difference between the smell of rotting food waste, and that produced by dairy, pig farms”, I think you will find it’s the same bacteria, and the bad smell depends on the amount of ammonia and sulphur present, and the concentration of the gasses in the atmosphere.

If as you say the “the conflict is not about using food waste to create electricity - I'm sure everyone can agree on that; the conflict is whether Bodffordd is really the optimum location for the plant.”, then it rather smacks me of NIMBY’S especially if it’s based on unfounded concerns about smells.

Anonymous said...

A kitchen bin can smell bad if you open the lid and sniff inside. It doesn't normally stink your kitchen out if the said lid is closed though, does it?

It seems most of the objectors have no experience of a digester at all, and are merely moaning on the basis of flawed preconceptions. If there's a problem when it's built, I feel sure the company will want to address that, to avoid a civil nuisance claim, if nothing else.

Of course, where there's populist political capital to be realised, there'll be populist political figures hanging around - much like a bad smell...

Old Mona said...
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Anonymous said...

DRUID WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE. I PROVIDED YOU WITH THE EVDIDENCE AND YOUR ARSE WENT.

I HATE CORRUPTION, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT HAS A LONG TERM EFFECT ON OUR KIDS.

PISSED OFF - l u g

Anonymous said...

Oh dear! Someone's SHOUTING again.

I wonder what long-term effects they are on about? Perhaps we could have a well-reasoned, referenced argument put forward? That might get more sympathy than SHOUTING and SCREAMING!

Anonymous said...

A suggestion if Lugg feels so strongly he could create his own blog and post the evidence on there.

It’s easy and free - open a Google Account and blog away.

Anonymous said...

Keep at it Lug, It's all one big cover up! They'd put the blame on their own Mother if it suited them.

The Red Flag said...

Build it here in Holyhead. Plenty of land round the back of Morrisons, plenty more spare soon where Tinto is and plenty on the joke Parc Cybi.

Just insist that they pay the same wage levels for the same jobs as NW England.

Anonymous said...

I visited the Ludlow site on an organised tour which was a carefully orchestrated one. The smell inside the building is bad,the firm only takes you to the front of the building whre all the filters and extractor fans are. The plant was not operating but when they did switch on the digester the noise was so loud that they had to close the windows because they could not continue with the lecture. Some of us went to the rear of the premises where we were not to go and the smell on the outside was as bad as the inside.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is interested in reading the judgement in the failed judicial review into the Bodffordd Biodigester...its been posted earlier here....Druid, can you repost it or refer to it please ?

Anonymous said...

As an outsider, I am confused, why is it referred to as the Bodffordd Biodigester when it is to built in Mona on not in Bodffordd, which granted is the nearby village.

Some commentators refer to TAN21 but surely seeing that the principle of the waste transfer station had already been established in 2008 (the extant permission), it was a bit horse door bolted.

Some commentators have mentioned noise, but sorry can you speak up I can’t hear you because of the RAF plane that keeps landing and then taking off at the adjacent runaway.

Someone commentators have mentioned smell, now I wonder if the Grampian Foods Chicken rearing unit as Swn Y Gwynt is still operating, you know the one located in between the proposed plant and the village of Bodffordd.

Some commentators have mentioned localism, but how local do you go. If you had a vote where to put the plant say Mona or Holyhead, would the applicant be allowed to ask what would it take to make the proposal acceptable to the locals (lets say £2000 to each voter who supports the application). You know a bit like the money the Island received from Shell.

The Great Councillini said...

20:06, some very valid and interesting points made.

I fear to say that a lot of this worry is based on hype and ill-informed views. That won't be a popular view. We can't realistically object to development on the grounds that things *might* happen; that would allow all development to stop.

What the law asks is that business (in this case) should conduct itself so as to be a good neighbour, which includes not producing excessive bad smells. Where the people of Bodffordd might have a point is that the level of smell currently not classed as a nuisance is too high; the kind of smell is also important (beer might be more tolerable than chicken offal). The Vion plant in Llangefni really stinks, and is a problem when calm weather prevails.

But, at the moment, the biodigester has to act according to current laws. Why don't the people of Bodffordd campaign for better nuisance and general environmental legislation? Because they aren't bothered about other places, perhaps and, in the end, just another lot of NIMBYs?

I should also point out that Shell UK gave money for the benefit of Anglesey and its people as their storage site closed, not as a sweetener beforehand. The real pity is the lack of meaningful accountability of spending that money in the years afterwards.

Anonymous said...

There is a certain amount of NIMBY in the objections, but the people who refer to this as not being a suitable feeling, I am sure would not want this development within 100 yds of their homes as is the case at Mona.Also this development will not benefit Anglesey ratepayers,presently domestic food waste is sent to Penhesgyn where a form of anaerobic digestion takes place within the tip which produces no smell and no noise, the methane is converted to electricity and enters the National Grid the surplus fertilizer is given away free to the farmers of Anglesey,the capacity at the tip is to be increased to included 'green waste' which will result in the extra surplus fertilizer being given away free to ratepayers.The development at Mona does the same as above except it is above ground and will have an impact on residents lives. Does Anglesey require such a development. As someone has pointed out Bodffordd already suffers from noisy aircraft and smells from the chicken farm, but that is not sufficient reason to impose more of the same on Bodffordd.

another anon and me said...

Sorry Anon 12:30 did you say:

“Also this development will not benefit Anglesey ratepayers, presently domestic food waste is sent to ‘Penhesgyn’ where a form of anaerobic digestion takes place within the tip which produces no smell and no noise”

So why would the proposed unit at Mona produce more smell and noise than that of ‘Penhesgyn’, what is the waste more smelly ?

Anonymous said...

It is a different system, at Penhesgyn the food waste is passed down tubes into the centre of the tip where the digestion takes place within the tip. Mona the development is above ground and the waste products stored in tanks,also Penhesgyn at present only deals in household waste.Mona will deal mainly in abattoir waste which stinks a lot more than the food waste.

another anon and me said...

Anon 15:55 Currently the household waste is mixed with garden waste and is allowed to biodegrade so it can be recycled as compost, the waste product from this process is then injected into the tip at Penhesgyn.

See http://www.ynysmon.gov.uk/doc.asp?cat=4758

Then there is commercial waste from abattoirs, which allegedly is smellier than food waste, even though ironically it is food waste.

And we are told that for the proposed system at Mona even though sealed, the waste from the abattoirs, that’s blood, bones and meat shall smell more than waste household waste or even those of a chicken rearing unit.