Campaigners fear village life could be destroyed by Bressingham biogas plant plan changes

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Campaigners are calling for a biogas power plant being built in a rural village to be scrapped after changes were made to the original design.

Residents in Bressingham near Diss in Norfolk claim what has appeared on the site at Deal Farm is different to the approved plans of 2015.

However, the two companies behind the scheme, Biowatt and Storengy UK, insist they have only made small changes and have submitted a new application to the council.

The anaerobic digester plant, which features two domed buildings, will turn agricultural waste into renewable gas and fertiliser.

But those living nearby say what has been built is not what they were expecting.

An updated planning application for the new biogas plant at Deal Farm has been submitted to the council

Christine Murton, who lives in the village, said: "If we got planning permission for a bungalow and built a mansion we would be made to take it down. This is wrong."

Geoff Lazell, another resident of the village, said: "The rural infrastructure of our roads and our drains are not adequate to deal with the amount of traffic."

Sue Butler owns a bed-and-breakfast with her father Dudley next door to the site, which they said had now had to close.

Ms Butler said: "Because of the traffic that was coming past and the noise, we'd lost the tranquility of what people came out here for, because of the construction that was going on at the back."

Mr Butler said: "Everything's been developed without permission and this is what we're finding frustrating. We're fighting, fighting and fighting and getting the right people to help us."

Planning permission was granted at Deal Farm in 2015 and construction work restarted at the beginning of last year.

But the companies behind the build realised that several changes needed to be made to the positioning of certain elements on the site.

The companies behind the new plant insist they've only made small changes to its design

In an agreement with South Norfolk Council, the building work was paused while a new application was submitted.

James Lloyd, chief executive of BioWatt, said: "We've swapped the sides of the digesters from one side to the other. We've done the same with the clamps.

"We've converted three tanks into two tanks, but the two tanks are larger and we've added the manure store, a lagoon and carbon capture.

"It's normal practice if things change, as long as you don't change the purpose of the site and you stay within the red line boundary, to seek to deal with those in a Section 73 [which allows development not previously permitted] and that's exactly what we did."

Those behind the plant say it will generate enough biogas to heat 4,000 homes a year and they have given councillors tours of the site to address some of their concerns.

Alan Leadbetter, from Storengy UK, said: "We've tried to reassure councillors that the noise from this plant will be very limited and the smells are all controlled. 

"In the long term we believe this facility will help reduce the number of vehicles moving in and out of this area."

The application is now with the council, but some councillors still are not convinced Deal Farm is the right place for the plant.

Dr Amanda McMurray, Bressingham and Fersfield parish councillor, said: "It's a great technology.  I don't doubt that the people building the plant believe it to be the case, it's just not right for us. 

"It's just not right and it's destroying the lives of some people who live close by."