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Residents ready for battle again over fresh fears of 'smelly' biofertiliser lagoon in Doncaster countryside

Protesters fighting the lagoon plan at High Melton
Protesters fighting the lagoon plan at High Melton
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Worried Doncaster residents fear a controversial plan for a fertiliser lagoon could still happen - despite having been turned down for planning permission.

The plan to create a facility for storing bio-fertiliser at Red House Farm, High Melton was rejected by Doncaster Council's planning committee in November after over 600 letters of objection were sent to planners over the scheme.

But now a plan to take the project forwards has been put together, with a legal bid to show that it can build the lagoon without needing planning permission.

Bosses at Red House Farm have applied for a Certificate of Proposed Lawful Development. If it was granted, the lagoon could still be built.

Concerned residents set up Villages Against High Melton Biofertilizer Lagoon to fight the plans. They fear the scheme would create an unaccepable odour, and would be delivered by heavy tankers.

A spokesman said: "High Melton and surrounding village residents had lived with and accepted the smell of manure as part of living near agricultural fields in a rural area. They also know that the resulting smell from the Refood product was nothing like manure and much more offensive.

"Once again funds have been raised by the group, this time to appoint a planning barrister to give an opinion on the content of the application. Doncaster planning was advised of this and subsequently engaged the services of a planning barrister themselves."

Richard Purcell, head of planning at Doncaster Council, said the applicant believed the main element of the plan, the construction of the lagoon for storing bio-fertiliser, did not require planning permission, and could be classed as 'agricultural permitted development'.

He said:"To prove this is the case before they carry out the work, they have submitted an application for a Certificate of Proposed Lawful Development. This is an application to attempt to prove the legal position that the proposed development is permitted by the Town and Country (General Permitted Development) Order 2015. We have to decide whether it is or is not lawful. We cannot, therefore, look at the merits or otherwise of the proposal, give weight to the number of people who objected to the previous planning application or to the decision made on that application.

"I can understand the frustration this may cause to people but there is a due process that needs to be followed for this type of application. The information supplied on behalf of the applicant is being given the closest legal scrutiny."

Bosses at ReFood, which manufactures the fertiliser as a by-product of a green energy works in Bentley, say they believe the concerns are the result of complaints in the area in April 2017, when many residents reported a foul odour. But the firm claims the source was neither Red House Farm nor the product used.

Philip Simpson, commercial director for Saria, the parent company of Refood, previously said the lagoon would store the fertiliser for use during the growing season. Its storage would mean it could be brought to the site gradually over the year, rather then using a large number of lorries in a short period of time. The fertiliser has been used since 2011 and its use does not need planning permission.

The lagoon would be controlled by the Environment Agency.