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Key pointers for planning and construction

Sponsored by Shawbrook Bank

There is a lot to think about when building an AD plant, from choosing a site to getting neighbours on side. James Miles-Hobbs, of J.M.H. Farming and Renewables explains.

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Planning is vital to a successful AD plant.
Planning is vital to a successful AD plant.

Choosing the right site

THE right site will be:

  • Relatively flat
  • Close to the AD’s feed store, such as a slurry lagoon (or cow shed to pump direct), a hard pad for manure, or the equivalence of silage clamps if you are using crops
  • Close to where electricity and heat generated will be used
  • Near to a ‘three-phase’ system, if you plan to transfer electricity to the Grid. You will need to contact the distributor network operator which owns the cables and poles, etc., about whether you can connect. If you are not near a three-phase system, it could be costly. If you are building a large plant with a developer you will need to be near an electrical substation, but many of these do not have capacity currently
  • Near to a gas pipeline if you plan to inject gas to the grid
  • Accessible for maintenance vehicles and a tractor and trailer or slurry tanker for digestate

Getting locals on side

ENGAGE with local people and the parish council early. Organise a meeting to show plans and answer questions. If you do not feel confident doing this, take your project consultant with you. Anticipated concerns include:

  • Bad odour: AD generally reduces odour because it deals with ammonia, which would otherwise be emitted by slurry. The plant will have carbon filters to remove other substances such as hydrogen sulphides
  • Noise: AD engines are very quiet because they are insulated
  • Traffic: This will depend on the size of your plant and whether you are bringing in feedstock. Even if it is a big plant, there is unlikely to be more than a handful of lorries daily. Consider different routes
  • Eyesore: If you have a bank or hill, you may be able to build the back of the plant into it, or include perimeter tree plantings
  • Spillages: A bund around the plant is likely to be a requirement of receiving a permit

Be aware of planning costs

Be aware of planning costs

THERE are considerable costs before construction can begin. An application to the electricity grid and distributor network operator will cost between £500-£2,000.

 

Expect to pay a consultant about £5,000 to do the planning application.

 

If you are going for a large-scale plant with an investor, then you are looking at more like £50,000-£100,000 for all the planning fees, legal and pre-construction work.

Planning permission

IN your application you will need to address: impact on quality of life, the immediate countryside and wildlife; light/air/water pollution; traffic; noise; effects on public rights of way; and health hazards from digestate.

Keep construction on track

YOU will be given a fixed cost for building the plant and site, so carefully consider any additional costs which come up. It is important to keep your construction timeline on track so you can make loan repayments.

 

Think about doubling the time the installer says it will take to build, to be safe, and talk to your lender about the possibility of a repayment holiday should things overrun.

Selecting your plant

AD PLANTS are very feedstock-specific, so work out what your feedstock will be and ensure you can commit to it for the duration of the plant (15-20 years).

 

Visit as many AD plants as possible. Once you have decided on a model, visit as many of that model as possible to talk to the farmer and operator.

 

Most people will choose a dedicated installer and an AD plant with a fully integrated system. It is, however, possible to select separate parts from different manufacturers, but you risk not having warranties and construction taking longer.

For more information:

Visit the Shawbrook Bank Hub

Sponsored by Shawbrook Bank
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