Campaigners fear that plans for a new gas plant would bring a risk of explosion similar to the one that rocked Oxfordshire earlier this month.

Acorn Bioenergy’s bid to build one of the UK’s largest anaerobic digester gas factories in High Cogges, near Witney, will be decided by the planning authority next week.

Cotswold Journal:

Cotswold Journal:

But a campaign group claims the proposed gas plant would carry the same risks that led to an explosion at Severn Trent Green Power’s power plant in Cassington on October 2.

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David Hindley of the Witney Anaerobic Digester Objection group said: “We are amazed and concerned that regardless of the explosion caused by lightning on October 2 at a similar local gas facility at Cassington, Acorn Bioenergy has continued with its application.

“While Acorn Bioenergy claims that it strives to meet ‘the highest health and safety standards’ it has continued with its application explaining that it would prepare for lightning protection ‘eventually.’

“We believe that this is not the responsible conduct that we would expect.”

Acorn Bioenergy was contacted for comment but did not respond.

Cotswold Journal: The view from Cassington of the explosion on October 2The view from Cassington of the explosion on October 2 (Image: Sophie Marriott)

Cotswold Journal: Drone images show the damage to the Severn Trent Green Power plant near Cassington after the explosion on October 2Drone images show the damage to the Severn Trent Green Power plant near Cassington after the explosion on October 2 (Image: SWNS)

The company’s proposed gas plant would be 1.5 times the area of the Wembley Stadium roof and the ‘fermenter tanks’ would be the height of four double decker buses on top of each other, the campaign group has claimed.

West Oxfordshire District Council will decide on the plans next Monday (November 6).

Council officers have recommended that councillors refuse the plans.

In a report published on Friday, the officers said the proposed plant would not be of a ‘proportionate and appropriate scale and pattern of development and/or character of the area’.

The report also warned of the increased traffic using the A40, with some 25,000 HGVs/Tractors trailers anticipated to come and go from the gas facility each year.

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Cotswold Journal: The Witney Anaerobic Digester Objection group was set up to oppose the gas plant plans

Mr Hindley, who lives within 250 metres of the proposed site, said: “This proposal attempts to rides rough shod over our Neighbourhood Plan and national and county policies.

“It is now for the Lowlands Area Planning Sub-Committee to decide its future.

“The enormous level of local concern by residents over the last nine months has shown what can be achieved by a small community that is united against a landowner and developer.

“Any other attempt to repeat this exercise would be met with robust responses.”

Acorn Bioenergy said it is “committed to providing renewable, carbon negative energy for the UK by unlocking the full potential of biomethane production.

The company added that it “prioritises sites with good access to farms that can provide high quality agricultural waste, good access to the strategic road network and ones that will have a minimal visual impact on neighbours".