Planning & Design Practice have secured approval on appeal on behalf of Midlands Biomass Solutions Ltd, resulting in planning permission being granted for the construction of an innovative timber drying facility and associated storage facilities at a farm in Derbyshire. This will allow virgin FSC wood to be chipped, dried and stored at the site ahead of transportation to a factory in Derby, where it will be converted by the process of torrefaction into a low carbon, eco-friendly biofuel.
The appeal was made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against an earlier refusal to grant planning permission by North East Derbyshire District Council.
The development at Averill farm in Morton, Derbyshire will see the development of a bespoke timber drying facility and a change of use of an existing agricultural building for associated storage purposes, together with improvements to access at the site. The scheme has the potential to create 12 new jobs at the farm, helping to boost the local economy.
Torrefaction is a thermal process that converts biomass into a coal like material, which has better fuel characteristics than the original biomass. It is in alignment with local and national policies to encourage renewable energy developments.
The main issues that led to North East Derbyshire District Council originally rejecting the scheme were concerns about a detrimental effect on the character and appearance of the area; as well as on the living conditions of nearby residents with particular regard to noise and disturbance.
However as detailed by Planning & Design at the appeal a comprehensive Noise Impact Assessment recommended a number of measures to mitigate noise including restricting delivery hours and wood chipping activities. In addition lorry routes to and from the site were agreed as part of a Delivery Management Plan. With no objections from the Environmental Health Officer or the Highway Authority, a refusal on either grounds of noise or highway safety were shown to be unjustified.
With regard to the character and appearance of the area, Planning & Design were able to demonstrate that the site is located within an existing working landscape, and within an existing group of agricultural buildings. The proposals include materials and form that reflect and reinforce the identity of the local surroundings and materials, ensuring that the local character and history is maintained. New hedgerow planting as part of the scheme will enhance the local green infrastructure as well as providing screening from any perceived noise or visual impacts.