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CYNON VALLEY: Plans for 500kw biomass boiler set for approval

CYNON VALLEY: Plans for 500kw biomass boiler set for approval

Image: LDRS

Plans for a 500kw biomass boiler on a Cynon Valley industrial estate look set for approval.

The application from Rapidgrid Ltd proposes to build a new building to house the biomass boiler, woodchip storage area and an office extension on Sixteenth Avenue on Hirwaun Industrial Estate.

Planning officers at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council have recommended the plans for approval with the planning committee set to discuss the application on Thursday, February 25.

The application was first reported to the committee on December 17, 2020 where it was resolved to defer the determination of the application to a future meeting to enable officers to receive final comments from Natural Resources Wales and await the outcome of a direction from Welsh Government.

Since that meeting, Natural Resources Wales have viewed the boiler specification submitted by the applicant and have confirmed that they have no objections to the proposal.

Welsh Government have also issued a decision confirming that the
application will not be called in for determination by the Welsh ministers and that the direction issued is cancelled so it can now be determined by the council.

There was one letter of objection to the application which raised concern about the scale of the proposed building and the biomass boiler.

The letter said the boiler will necessitate a big flue to release emissions which will produce and disperse air borne pollutants over the surrounding area and over residents who have the misfortune to live nearby and will impact the health of many residents..

It also highlighted the proliferation of proposed developments on a small site like Hirwaun Industrial Estate, who are themselves pollutants who require emission stacks ranging from 35-90 metres and numbering up to six in total, and it said the cumulative effect of these emissions cannot be overstated.

It said that sooty deposits will fall on everything in its path dirtying clean washing and windowsills and odours, smell and smoke will also pervade  homes and linger on clothes and washing.

The letter said there is a potential fire hazard with emissions, and proximity of boiler to highly flammable businesses nearby.

It said: “Residents have experienced many weary years of enduring various factories and sites that have been through planning applications and permissions and then have abandoned/ignored regulations – problems include a previous biomass boiler causing odour and sooty fallout, lack of filtration and ventilation, problems with HGVs, wagons and trailers from the industrial estate using our residential road as a shortcut.”

The letter added: “In these unprecedented times when fresh air and outside activity is being promoted as a means to keep healthy, we find ourselves trying to fight for any breath of fresh air we can as numerous polluters, all concentrated in a small area, attempt to compromise the air we breathe.”

Finally, it queried how the proposal fits in with the Wales Well Being of Future
Generations Act (2015).

But officers said in the planning report that the proposal is considered to be acceptable.

They said: “The proposed buildings are considered to be of an acceptable scale and design and are in-keeping with the existing buildings at the site and within the wider industrial estate.

“It is therefore not considered that the proposal would have an
adverse impact upon the character and appearance of the site or the
surrounding area.

“Furthermore, the proposed buildings are a sufficient distance
away from nearby residential properties to ensure that they would not have a
detrimental impact up their amenity (in terms of being overbearing or resulting
in any overshadowing) and privacy.

“t is noted that the nature of a biomass boiler may release emissions into the
surrounding area however, the applicant has submitted the specifications of the boiler to be installed which confirms that emission levels would be low.

“Furthermore, the council’s public health and protection division have not
raised any objection in this regard.”

Words: Anthony Lewis, Local Democracy Reporter

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