MINUTE 182 (AP)
The Annual Parish Meeting was held on Friday 9th March 2012 in the primary school hall, The Beck, commencing 7.30pm.
COUNCILLORS PRESENT: - Mr Garland (Chairman), Mrs Batten (Vice Chair) Messrs. Lambert, Cooper, Storey, Lawrence, Spanswick, Mrs McGeeney and Mrs Smith. Also present 83 parishioners (2 not eligible to vote) 4 representatives from REGBIO, V Fear Lynn News, PCSO Watson & PC Asker and one resident from Hockwold.
APOLOGIES - received from Mr Glasscock.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST - none for this meeting.
The Chairman opened the meeting by reading a statement advising that during his 23 years serving on the Parish Council, he and all other Councillors past & present have always endeavoured to do the best for the village. All are volunteers & neither receive payment or claim expenses. He wished to make it clear that at no time in the last 23 years has he ever taken a backhander, a bribe or a gift from any person or business, he and the Parish Council in general have been accused of doing just that over the past few weeks, he knows this to be true as a gentleman telephoned his wife and told her so. The Chairman trusted that such allegations would not be repeated in the room tonight. Mr Wing said that not everyone should be tarred with the same brush. The Chairman advised the purpose of a Parish Meeting is to discuss “issues specific to members of the Parish” and as this meeting was bought forward in order to properly allow time to discuss the planning application by REGBIO to build a bio-fuelled power plant on Council land down the Old Brandon Road, he suspects this will be the main topic this evening. To facilitate a proper informed debate REGBIO was invited to attend this evening, 4 representatives were present. The Chairman outlined the rules for the meeting - Standing orders prohibited the meeting from lasting longer than 2 ½ hours. In order to provide fair access to the time he has been advised to allow people to only speak once, this prevents a small number of people dominating the meeting, however, at the risk of being accused of being bias, he will endeavour to be slightly flexible on this but please be understanding if he does not come back for the 3rd, 4th or 5th time. Only parishioners on the electoral list will be allowed to vote, should a vote be taken and to this end he would ask that the white cards should be raised. Before you speak, for the purpose of the meeting, you give your name.
MINUTES of the last Annual Parish meeting were read by Clerk, agreed and duly signed by the Chairman.
1 Interest - Mr Samuels enquired if any action has been taken to invest the Councils reserves longer term to generate a better interest return. Clerk advised some of the capital reserve has been earmarked for the possible building of new facilities on the playingfield. Chairman advised that no plans to invest long term and tie up the monies have been made.
2 Bio-Fuelled Power Plant - OBR - The Chairman invited the representatives from REGBIO to give a presentation, with questions to be asked at the end of the presentation. Mr Collins, Managing Director of the company and Mr Booth development director, introduced themselves to the meeting. A presentation was made using a screen and Mr Collins advised of the sites they operate from. Their basic business is recycling old cooking oils and turning them into a bio fuel called LF100 - samples were on show.
MINUTE 183 (AP)
MATTERS ARISING CONT
2 The plant in Hockwold was opened in 2006 and the recycled fuel has been used to run the plant for the past 2 ½ years and any surplus electricity is put into the national grid - Living Fuels collect the oil from over 400 sites, Living Power burns it, these all form part of the REGBIO company. In 2009 the Environment Agency granted the company an “End of Waste” status as the fuel produced was more friendly & less harmful than burning diesel. The size of the delivery vehicle was shown, this would be a 18ton tanker. Mr Booth advised the proposals for the Feltwell site, this would not be wider than the already present substation, so would not be anymore visible. The site would consist of 6 containers each housing 2 gen sets , fuel storage tanks and transformers. The noise emitted was advised, in the slide show people were standing and talking beside a working plant - they are not noisy. Visual impact, the plant would be screened and fenced. Emissions - the fuel burnt is more friendly & less harmful than diesel, there is no smoke or oily deposits. Odour - the exhaust is odourless, there has been no odour issues on 4 operational sites. Deliveries - depending on fuel burnt but probably one delivery every 1-2 weeks, the plant will use around 180 tonnes of fuel per year.. Operating times - these plants are put in to support the National Grid during crisis - running periods are restricted to 7am-1.30pm and 4pm-10pm - running times typically average 90 minutes/150 hours per year. Maintenance visits once per week. Why was Feltwell chosen? - the site is only 2.5 miles from the processing plant, this reduces traffic journeys which is better for the environment and the proximity to the electrical substation. The site is SSSI sensitive and it is expected that the planning officer will determine requirements so as not to disturb the environment. A film of the opening of the Leeds site was shown. Questions were invited. Parishioners asked the following questions -
Fuel usage and delivery schedules did not add up, these were explained by Mr Booth.
How much was this plant going to cost the Company? What happens to the site if the Company went bust and how a profit could be made from only having the site working for up to 150 hours per year? Did the Company receive grants, were asked and responded to by Mr Collins.
Would we be able to sit in our gardens and have windows open - would there be a smell or oil deposits?
The Bentwaters site has a tall chimney, not shown on presentation - this chimney is a heat exchanger not on presentation as not applicable to Feltwell site.
What happens to the used oil? It was advised only clean refined oil leaves the Hockwold plant.
What good would this plant do for the village? The land would be leased at a commercial rate. The Clerk advised any monies accrued from a lease could be used within the village as it would be a revenue income unlike the capital monies in reserve which can only be used for capital projects within the village.
There is a substation near the old tip why could this not be used? A lot of sites have been investigated but some were not viable due to technical issues re EDF.
The noise levels were questioned - Mr Booth responded and the Chairman referred to the planning application.
Security & local employment were enquired - the site would be unmanned but fenced and the Company strives to employ local people.
Could the plant be converted to use other fuels? No reason why not.
Would the Company enter into a legal agreement with the Parish Council to limit the working hours of the plant, in case the National Grid required more than specified? The planning process determines this and would have to be changed through the required process.
The carbon footprint was discussed. All other sites were brown fields where as Feltwell is green fields? Permission has been granted for a plant at Lakenheath, this is a green field site.
Parishioner felt that the junction of OBR needed to be widened. Perhaps a speed limit on the OBR was necessary. What position the exhausts faced were enquired - North to South.
MINUTE 184 (AP)
MATTERS ARISING CONT
2 Where was the used oil sourced from - approx. ½ from private sector and ½ from food trade The length of the lease was enquired.
A parishioner felt that land was being removed from use that gave young farmers a chance to farm. The Chairman advised that when first approached the Council had a duty to look at this scheme which would accrue a lot higher revenue from a small piece of land. Mr Storey, as Chairman of the allotment committee, advised of the land available in the Parish. Of just over 42 acres of land only 4 acres of this is used for garden allotments, the purpose of allotment land, the rest is let out on short term farm tenancies. Mr Storey gave a breakdown of the number of tenants and expressed that he would like to see all the land used for its purpose of allotment gardens. The Clerk advised an allotment garden is an area not exceeding 1 rood i.e. ¼ acre.
Did any of the company representatives present live within 1 mile of one of these plants? Not at present.
Could the Hockwold plant be visited? Mr Collins advised he would arrange a visit to the plant, even though it is smaller the fuel and engine size were the same. Parishioners were advised to check the notice board and shops for notice of an arranged visit.
Could the plant still be built in the village on private land if not on parish land? The Chairman advised that yes this would be a possibility.
Parishioners expressed support for the plant - the increase in traffic would be minimal, the possible revenue could do a lot for the village and Feltwell should be seen as a community supporting alternative forms of energy.
The Chairman thanked REGBIO for attending the meeting, they finished at 9.30pm.
During the debate Ms E Mills requested that a Parish Poll is held, this was supported by V Cock, C Cock, J Secker, N Fletcher, B Reeves, J Reeves, D Waters, B Waters, N Freeman, M Murfitt - this request was also submitted in writing together with the signatures of those supporting. The Chairman advised that the cost of a poll had to be met by the parish and it has been advised this will be in the region of £2000 and as a poll had been requested and supported one had to be held. Mrs J Batten proposed that the question to be asked on the poll should be “SHOULD THE PARISH LEASE LAND TO REGBIO FOR THE BUILDING OF A BIO-POWER PLANT”, seconded Mr E Lambert, 54 in favour, 8 against, motion carried. The Clerk advised that voting cards will not be received and those wishing to vote would have to attend a polling station and vote either yes or no to the question set, polling stations would be open from 4-9pm only. When the date is set by the returning officer notices will be put up around the village.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
3 Empty Property - Oak Street - a resident expressed concerns re the safety of a empty property in Oak Street, Clerk advised this has already been reported to the Borough Council, response not yet received, Clerk would chase this up.
4 Confidence Vote - Mr Marsden expressed a vote of confidence in the Parish Council and proposed that this meeting expressed a vote of confidence & thanks to the Parish Councillors for the time, energy, effort and finance they have given and are giving in their service to the community - the majority of parishioners present supported this proposal.
5 Chairman - Mr Garland advised that as previously advised to the Council there would be a vacancy on the Parish Council from May as he is standing down - he encouraged those present to stand for the vacant position.
The meeting was closed at 9.50pm.