Frequently Asked Questions

We are sure that you will have a number of questions and in this section we will try to answer some of the most common questions we have come across. If your question is not answered below, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will endeavour to help.

1. Are Anaerobic Digesters safe?

According to the scoping plans which have previously been submitted, they are completely safe. However, the anaerobic industry itself does not have a good Health & Safety record. In Germany, for example, which has built many anaerobic digester plants, there have been over 90 major incidents since 2010, mostly explosions and fires. That works out at almost one every two weeks.

Meanwhile in Britain – in the words of the Environment Agency themselves – between March and November 2013, there were seven “catastrophic failures of anaerobic digester plants”. click through to INCIDENTS.

2. Aren’t anaerobic digesters good as they produce renewable energy?

It is true that they do produce renewable energy, which is why the government encourages and subsidises them; and when they are built on a small scale, by a solo farmer to deal with just his own waste, they can work very well.

However, as soon as they are built to industrial scale, any positive effects they might have, in producing renewable energy, are offset by the environmental problems they cause due to their size. These include:

• Dangerous emissions which can pollute the air, water and soil in the area surrounding the facility.
• The need to transport in large quantities of waste by HGVs and farm vehicles to keep the digester going, resulting in even more pollution as well as traffic congestion

3. How will the anaerobic digester planned for Leven affect my life?

The applicant says that it will not affect your life. However, people who live near other industrial-sized anaerobic digesters, in the UK and abroad, have found reality to be very different. Therefore, we believe the planned development will negatively impact our lives in these ways:

• Failure of parts of the process, which allows the uncontrolled discharge of gas or liquid, has the potential for a toxic release, damage from an explosion or waste water pollution to the water courses.

• An on-site incident could affect some areas outside the plant boundary. There are some houses within 915 metres of the plant and Leven Primary School is approximately 3/4 mile (1280 metres), as the crow files. Also people driving past on the A165 and our neighbouring villages of Catwick, Brandesburton and Long Riston could be similarly compromised.

• A vast increase in the volume of lorries of up to 44 tonnes (UK limit) delivering “feed stock” for the plant and removing  the digestate (the organic material left after the digester process)using the local roads and detrimental effects on the road surfaces (increased repair cost to East Riding Rate payers, and delays), along with the associated increase in potential local accident rates.

• Because it is necessary to treat the “organic” material prior to use, large volumes will need to be stored and processed on site, before being fed into the digester plant. This increases the potential for smells, noise, light pollution and the possible attraction of vermin.

• This plant is industrial in size, operating 24 hours/day 7 days/week. The only other 2 anaerobic digester plants currently being built by the company proposing the Leven site are sited on industrial sites on Teesside, and have immediate access to the dual carriage way trunk road network.

4. Will the anaerobic digester impact on other parts of the East Riding?

There will be an impact on other areas of the East Riding. They will include:

• The road network in this part of East Riding is primarily standard two-way A road, plus B roads (e.g. the A1035 primary route from the site to Beverley and the A165 via Skirlaugh to Hull). Access from the west of Beverley can only be via two routes; the Northern relief road exiting from Lincoln Way and (on completion) the Southern relief road exiting onto Swinemoor Lane. Both of these connect with the A1035 at the Swinemoor Roundabout, which will be expected to cope with the bulk of the vehicular increase.

5. I hear that the site will the site smell. Will it?

There will be without question and increase in smells from the site and it seems that once an AD plant is built if it is causing problems then local residents have very little power in protecting where they live. In other areas where digesters have been built makes it impossible for village residents to open their windows of go out into their gardens.

“the treatment of biodegradable waste has an inherently high potential for offensive odour and in our experience it is difficult to prevent odour emissions at all times even when the operator has taken all the appropriate measures.”

Environment Agency

We have highlighted just one example and this is just one of many. Residents near Biffa’s flagship AD plant, a £24 million site at The Poplars, Cannock, Staffordshire, fighting odours for two years, affecting residents living well over 800 metres away. It is not just smells from the plant that residents have to put up with – the EA received 70 complaints after digestate was spread over nearby fields. Up to 80 families have begun legal action against Biffa after the stench they have endured.

“Living in Cannock for six years we had an AD PLANT built 800 meters from my property 18 months ago. We were not consulted of possible affects on our day to day lives and the surrounding area . The AD PLANT GIVES OFF A STOMACH WRENCHING SMELL. This meant the whole of summer 2012 we could not open windows, sit in our gardens and go on with our day to day lives. We have had various meetings with Biffa the company who run the plant and they have made vast changes but we are still getting the smell to date. I’m calling Environmental Agency about 4 times a week and this has been for 18 months. Sorry to hear that they are thinking of putting one of these disgusting plants in your area. The theory of the plant is very good with waste being used for energy but where they actually put it is a problem. Can I say to you please, please make your case with councils, press, local residents before this goes ahead, our lives have been made a hell… PLEASE DONT LET THIS HAPPEN”

A comment from a Cannock resident – January 12th 2013

6. Will there be a visual impact of the development?

Simply put Yes there will be a visual impact. The size of the site that is being proposed for development is 6.5 hectares (16 acres) which is the the equivalent of 9 football pitches. There will be numerous buildings on the site but the biggest measures 15m high. This is taller than three double decker buses stacked one on another.


7. Where will all the waste come from?

It has been proposed that the waste will include:

  • Animal slurry – includes chicken manure.
  • Straw
  • Water

These “feedstocks” will need to be in adequate supply to keep the plant running. Should the supply be deficient other waste could be imported to the site including food waste and other animal slurry and will come from within a 30 mile radius of the site and transported by road. To give you some idea of the area that is covered we have marked the area in yellow on the map.


In addition to all of these issues, the proposed development site is classified as GREENFIELD; former industrial land suitable for development is considered to be BROWNFIELD.  Though this site has had mineral works associated with it for some years, this was a temporary arrangement with full plans for restoration, which means that it is specifcally designated as greenfield.  That is aside of the fact that it is an industrial process, which might arguably be best placed on an industrial site – with all of the infrastructure necessary to deal with industrial incidents.

CAD believes that an industrial development of the proposed scale has the potential for significant impact (and danger) to the surrounding area, property and life. Given the potential impact of catastrophic events and fatalities, it is imperative to ensure that the people delivering the proposal are suitably qualified and can be considered as the “right and proper” company to work on such a development. From the perspective of CAD, the information submitted to ERYC does not provide enough detail to assess if the applicant can be considered as either experienced or suitably qualified to deliver this scale of industrial provision.