Sparsholt College and Ecotricity revise planning application for Green Gasmill
A revised planning application for a Green Gasmill at Sparsholt College has been submitted – addressing the traffic concerns of Winchester City Councillors with new detailed studies, route planning and driver controls.
Winchester Councillors refused the initial application to build the £10 million Green Gasmill and Renewable Energy Training Centre on the College’s 400 acre campus in May, due to concerns over the “type and volume of traffic” proposed on the local rural roads and insufficient “detail of the routes” to be used which posed some safety concerns.
Ecotricity and Sparsholt College have commissioned more detailed analysis of the traffic flow and management plans for the development and have revised the application to include:
more detailed information on the type of tractors and trailers to be used, and after additional traffic surveys, clear restrictions on the timing of deliveries and in some cases a new cap on the number of vehicles
revised traffic route plans with specific restrictions on roads through villages such as Sparsholt, Littleton, Crawley and Up Somborne that have been marked as red routes for through traffic
strong penalties on drivers using wrong routes, including termination of contracts for repeat offenders.
The Green Gasmill, fuelled by locally harvested grass, could produce enough clean gas to power the equivalent of 4,000 homes every year.
Tim Jackson, Sparsholt College principal, said: "I am pleased we have been able to add additional detail to the revised application. There has been considerable work undertaken to address the main points of concern around traffic flow and I have been involved in some very constructive meetings with representatives of local parish councils to outline the traffic movements specifically.
“While there has never been any intention to use their lanes as through routes, we’ve none-the-less introduced specific restrictions on roads through the villages to provide reassurance to the local community.
“We’ve introduced more detail on why tractors are appropriate on rural roads – where they are already common; and carried out extra traffic surveys to show how the very low increase in traffic volumes – just 3% at its absolute peak near the final destination – dissipating further across the road network. While restrictions on the timing of deliveries and in some cases, the potential to impose caps on the number of vehicles at particular times will further ensure our tractors have little impact on the road network.
“Furthermore we have detailed the penalties our drivers will face if they fail to use prescribed routes and comply with restrictions – including the rapid termination for repeat offenders.
“To back this up, all these restrictions will be included in the operational management plan elements of which will be controlled by conditions on any planning permission and a legal agreement.”
Mr Jackson said Sparsholt College were determined to continue to be good neighbours to the surrounding community and overcome any concerns they held because there were so many benefits to the development.
“The benefits that the Green Gasmill and Renewable Energy Training Centre are massive. From helping Winchester District towards its renewable energy targets to training the next generation of green gas professionals in a growing industry, through to the financial benefits this project provides to the local farming community and rural economy.”
Up to eight specialist professional jobs will be created to run the Green Gasmill, while the new supply contracts with farmers – providing the grass and rye feedstock required to supply the anaerobic digestion process – will also reinforce existing jobs.
Furthermore, in line with other renewable energy projects, a community benefit fund of £5,000 a year would be available to the local community.
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