East Lothian renewable energy plan angers residents

Anaerobic digestion turns organic waste into energy. File picture: supplied
Anaerobic digestion turns organic waste into energy. File picture: supplied
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A RENEWABLE energy plant is set to be built in the Lothians – sparking anger among local residents.

Bosses at J Haig Hamilton and Sons, a family firm based in East Lothian, have lodged an application for an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility at Standalane, Ballencrieff.

East Lothian Council has recommended approving the proposals.

But residents have raised concern over traffic congestion and the development’s impact on the surrounding area.

They have accused Haig Hamilton of a failure to be transparent and claim that the plan was treated preferentially by the council.

Farmer David Chalmers said: “From the outset, this application has consisted of smoke and mirrors, misinformation and disinformation, ever-changing facts and figures.

“[This has resulted] in confusion and deep suspicion amongst residents along the northern corridor of East Lothian, especially with regard to ever-increasing traffic projections, road safety and impact on one of the highest amenity areas in Scotland.”

Writer Mike Wilson, 63, said: “Right from the start, there was a sense that the applicant was pushing against an open door, whilst objectors were having difficulty getting a foot in it.

“Whether it is incompetence or something more sinister, who knows, but the council has questions to answer.”

Anaerobic digestion involves a series of natural biological processes through which organic waste material – known as feedstock – is broken down by micro-organisms and converted into energy.

The biogas can then be used in a combined heat and power plant, or cleansed of carbon dioxide and injected into the National Grid.

Senior figures at J Haig Hamilton and Sons have rejected the criticisms.

Haig Hamilton said: “We are delighted that the council has agreed to recommend approval of our proposals for a new anaerobic digestions facility at Standalane.

“We have worked hard to ensure that our application is wholly consistent with council and Scottish Government policy, and we feel the recommendation is recognition of that fact.

“We are also delighted to have more than 240 letters of support for our application, making it one of the best supported proposals in East Lothian for many years.

“Haig Hamilton and Sons always treats its neighbours and local residents with respect, and indeed we twice invited No Gas Works East Lothian to a site visit to discuss the proposals in detail, but sadly it refused to accept our invitations.”

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “In East Lothian, details about objections and support comments are available to view at planning offices prior to committee and individuals or groups can also apply to present their views at planning committees.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com