Pollution fears over Leeds caravan site’s ‘renewable energy plant’

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Plans for a wood burning energy plant which would power a caravan and campsite in a Leeds village have been put on hold after questions were raised about emissions levels from the site.

The owners of the 76-van Moor Lodge site in Bardsey - which sits between Moor Allerton and Scarcroft golf courses - insist the burner reaches European standards and emissions will be safe and barely visible, However a number of local residents have raised objections, citing worries about pollution, smells and noise from the plant.

The burner would be placed in an existing workshop and storage building which would be converted.

Councillors on Leeds council’s North and East Plans Panel echoed some local concerns, with Lib Dem Brian Cleasby asking for further information about “noxious fumes”, and comparing the proposal to another contentious application in his own ward.

Despite the concerns, the meeting was told that even if the facility was burning 45kg of wood chip every hour, it would still fall under clean air regulations.

It was pointed out that “we have to make sure the pollutants are diluted before they are emitted”.

Matthew Dowley, speaking on behalf of applicant James Brown, said 40 similar units had been installed across the UK, some in “smoke controlled areas”.

He said the facility was a “small bio-gas combustion unit” and already classified by the energy regulator Ofgem.

He explained that it runs on clean gas running through filters, and claimed that any emissions would be 93 per cent less than standard boilers.

“It is efficient and renewable energy,” he explained, adding that “there isn’t a plume of black smoke coming out of it”.

He acknowledged it was new technology and “we are all on a steep leaning curve”.

Despite the reassurances the panel voted by a narrow margin to defer its decision for further information.

Chair of the panel Neil Walshaw, who was in favour of the scheme, said colleagues were, in effect, asking for information they had already been given and “we have established we are not building Drax power station”.