£30m anaerobic digester proposed for Arla site

Artist impressions of Olleco anaerobic digester on the Arla site PNL-150901-151702001
Artist impressions of Olleco anaerobic digester on the Arla site PNL-150901-151702001

A proposed £30 million anaerobic digester would provide enough electricity to power the Arla megadairy next door – but critics say the plans stink.

Arla and waste firm Olleco want the digester to process 50,000 tonnes of biomass made up of waste food to power what is the world’s biggest dairy.

Artist impressions of Olleco anaerobic digester on the Arla site PNL-150901-151618001

Artist impressions of Olleco anaerobic digester on the Arla site PNL-150901-151618001

The commercial food waste will be collected from nearby shops, depots, restaurants and canteens and delivered daily to the plant, which would be built to the north-east of the dairy near the Aston Clinton bypass.

In their statement to planners, Arla and Olleco say: “Arla’s philosophy has always been to make the Aylesbury dairy a show piece facility with leading environmental performance and the company has set the objective of achieving zero carbon status for the dairy.

“The Olleco AD Plant will produce enough renewable energy to offset Arla’s carbon footprint at the dairy.”

A materials recycling facility is also proposed for the site which would receive, separate and prepare up to 80,000 tonnes of recyclable materials so that they can re-enter the manufacturing process once more. All of the of waste packaging will come from one fast food chain.

Artist impressions of Olleco anaerobic digester on the Arla site PNL-150901-151629001

Artist impressions of Olleco anaerobic digester on the Arla site PNL-150901-151629001

Olleco says 39 jobs will be created by the scheme, rising to 75 in the future. It said the project ‘represents a very substantial investment in the Aylesbury area for Olleco (estimated at £30 million capital expenditure) and will result in the effective economic use of a major industrial facility, delivering job creation and producing energy from waste’.

It added: “Olleco will locate its new headquarters adjacent to this flagship plant.”

However, residents have lodged their objections to the scheme, with some concerned over potential smells from the anaerobic digester.

Kelvin Dean of Farm House, Monks Court, said: “We understand the plant will be one of the largest in Europe, far larger than any installation in the UK and clearly the extent of noise, pollution, odour and the like can only be guessed and in reality is unknown without the experience and knowledge of a similar project.”

Artist impressions of Olleco anaerobic digester on the Arla site PNL-150901-151640001

Artist impressions of Olleco anaerobic digester on the Arla site PNL-150901-151640001

Susan Gillingham, of Whitethorns, Buckland added that there was already smell and noise coming from the dairy even though residents had been assured this would not be the case.

Arla and Olleco say the anaerobic digester ‘is a sealed structure fitted with a negative air extraction system and an odour control system and thus once (delivery lorries are) inside the building all odours are contained’.

Anaerobic digestion is widely used as a source of renewable energy. The process produces a biogas, consisting of methane, carbon dioxide and traces of other gases which can be used directly as fuel.

Bucks County Council (which handles waste-related planning applications) is aiming to decide the proposals by March 3. The deadline for public comments is January 20.

Artist impressions of Olleco anaerobic digester on the Arla site PNL-150901-151651001

Artist impressions of Olleco anaerobic digester on the Arla site PNL-150901-151651001