Oxfordshire villagers object to green gas plant ‘bigger than Wembley’

South Leigh villagers say the anaerobic digester plant proposed by Acorn Bioenergy is simply too big and the site is not suitable.

The proposed site “is 1.5 times the area of the Wembley Stadium roof and each of the proposed five ‘fermenter tanks’ would be the height of four double decker buses standing on top of one another”, said South Leigh resident John Alexander.

“Two slurry ‘lagoons’ for pre-treatment of ‘wastewaters’ would cover 1.25 acres processing tons of poultry litter, farmyard manures and spent crops every year.

“This would be a nightmare for the 330 residents of South Leigh & High Cogges, plus those in east Witney,” he said.

Oxford Mail:

Matt Glithero said the extra visits by lorries along country lanes, put horses and riders, and walkers at risk, “never mind those in Witney’s Oxford[1] Hill area where the traffic and air pollution are already at a breaking point”.

“According to the developer’s own documentation, some 12,958 unprecedented HGVs or tractor trips would be expected each year, that’s one every 19 minutes plus another one every 3.6 minutes during harvest,” he said.

David Hindley’s house is one of the closest to the site.

He said: “It’s a slap in the face to our Neighbourhood Plan and would run roughshod over the policies addressing environmental issues of noise, light, smell, traffic and industrial development on a greenfield site as well as the rural tranquility of the area.”

He said the developer’s ‘greenwashing’ can not “gloss over its intention to build an industrial scale, flammable and poisonous gas production installation a stone’s throw from residential homes”.

Anaerobic digesters create biomethane that will go into the national gas grid and ultimately be used to produce power.

“The noxious gas produced at the plant would need to be taken by tanker to Banbury[2] for injection into the gas grid”, said Mr Hindley.

“That’s 25 miles away! This is the wrong location in every respect.”

Dan Levy, who is both county[3] councillor and one of the district councillors for the area has reservations about the size and siting of the plant.

He said: “It isn’t clear where the raw materials for the plant would come from, nor where the outputs would go, and nor is it really clear that the plant will assist our attempts to address climate change.

“It is really surprising that the developer has put in an application before any decision has been made by the county council about building the new 4-way junction at Shores Green. 

Oxford Mail:

“It is difficult to see how access to the site can be achieved without a bad impact on Witney, South Leigh and the A40.

“Clearly the developer will have the opportunity to try to allay the concerns of residents, but it hasn’t succeeded in doing so yet.”

Acorn Bioenergy has said its site has the potential to produce enough renewable gas to heat 7,000 homes a year.

It said the majority of vehicles will avoid the villages of South Leigh and High Cogges and will only be able to access the site from the A40 slip road.

It will support farmers by taking local feedstocks and must, by its nature, be located in the heart of the country, where much farming produce has always had to be moved around by lorry.

It said it would add to the existing screening by planting extra trees and hedgerows along the eastern boundary.

Acorn said: “The plant will be carefully sited so that the development of taller structures will use the surrounding woodland to screen them. The digesters are also built slightly sunk into a bund, minimising their true height.”

It added: “Acorn is working with and listening to the views of the local community.

“That is why we have ensured no HGVs will be allowed to drive through South Leigh and High Cogges.”

The application is under consideration by West Oxfordshire District Council.

This story was written by Miranda Norris[4], she joined the team in 2021 and covers news across Oxfordshire as well as news from Witney.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Miranda[email protected]. Or find her on Twitter: @Mirandajnorris

Profile: Miranda Norris Journalists news from the Oxford Mail


  1. ^ Oxford (www.oxfordmail.co.uk)
  2. ^ Banbury (www.oxfordmail.co.uk)
  3. ^ county (www.oxfordmail.co.uk)
  4. ^ Miranda Norris (www.oxfordmail.co.uk)

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