The site is well connected north and south via the A1 at the Colsterworth junction. The proposed route is via the B676 Colsterworth/Buckminster Road. The project has been purpose-designed to significantly minimise impact on the road network.

A dedicated access route will be constructed taking vehicles directly to the B676 haul road, but critically, this will avoid traffic through Gunby or Sewstern villages. Farm tracks on private land will be upgraded and utilised wherever possible to avoid traffic on the highway.

During normal operations (around 46 weeks per year), HGV traffic on the B676 will increase the observed peak hourly traffic flow by around 1-2%. During harvest, for around 6 weeks a year, this increase will be around 3-4%.

All our vehicles are easily identifiable, GPS tracked and managed from field to site.

The plant would run 24/7, 365 days per year, continuously supplying renewable gas to the local grid network.

The plant would be staffed during working hours and deliveries made during the hours 07:00 to 19:00 (with out of hours remote monitoring).

The exception to this is during the peak harvest periods when working hours could be extended to allow harvested crops to be brought onto site, twice a year. 

AD plants are typically very quiet and are not generally associated with noise disturbance or ongoing noise issues.

All possible sources of noises will be assessed, with mechanical items used on site assessed before and after development. An independent acoustic assessment would be submitted to the local authority with any planning application.

As well as following the strict noise standards applied in agricultural areas, Ironstone Energy will take extra measures to soundproof noise sources from within the plant. Equipment likely to generate noise is specially housed and HGV access hours are often limited.

AD plants that are fed entirely by crops do not cause odour nuisance to local residents or businesses. There is usually a minimal compost/crop silage type odour associated with the silage storage (clamps) on site and only detectable when standing in close proximity to the clamps.

Odour issues are more commonly associated with food waste, utility sludge plants or animal manure feedstocks, which does not apply to this site.

An independent Odour Assessment will be submitted to the local authority with the planning application, which will assess all possible odour emission points. All liquid digestate produced will be contained in a fully covered store and silage clamps will be sheeted with sophisticated multi-layer covers.

One valuable by-product of AD is digestate, an organic material created once the crops have been converted to biomethane. The AD process would produce both a solid and a liquid digestate, both of which are returned to agricultural soils as part of circular agreements with our growers. This is fundamental to the working partnerships between Future Biogas and farm businesses.

Solid digestate provides organic matter and slow-release nutrients to the soil, in addition to structural benefits, such as improving soil structure and water holding capacity. It can be used in a similar way to compost and helps build long-term soil health.

Liquid digestate contains high quantities of readily available Nitrogen and other plant nutrients including phosphate, potash, and micronutrients. It is used to directly replace artificial fertilisers and is applied when crops are actively growing.

Modern biogas plants are designed with multiple safety features to avoid incidents such as the recent lightning strike and fire at a plant in Oxfordshire.

All of our plants have sophisticated lightning protection systems that meet the British Standard 62305 and will be regulated by the HSE.

All plants contain fire suppression equipment as standard as well as being built with comprehensive containment to ensure nothing leaves the site other than intentional exports of by-products.

This site has been selected as it best combines highway access, gas network connection and topography with considerations around visual impact, proximity to neighbours and most crucially access to feedstock.

Located centrally on the Buckminster Estate, with an access track that will help remove existing industrial estate traffic from Sewstern, the site also benefits from a mature shelter belt of evergreen trees to the west.

A variety of sites were reviewed before selecting the proposed location off Gunby/Sewstern Road, which represents the best balance of all these factors.

Traditionally renewable energy projects in the UK have been funded by grants and subsidies. Ironstone Energy will break away from this taxpayer funded model and sell the biomethane directly to a variety of customers who are seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. This new model shifts the funding of such facilities away from the taxpayer and on to the actual carbon emitters. 

Our first customer, who will be buying all the biomethane from our Gonerby Moor plant which is already in construction, is AstraZeneca. Future Biogas is already in discussions with a variety of similarly progressive Net Zero leaders looking to replace their fossil gas use. These would be the eventual purchasers of the biomethane produced from this proposed plant. 

The displacement of food crops by bioenergy crops is a common misconception. The bioenergy crops grown for Ironstone Energy will be grown as break crops as part of a sustainable food crop rotation, enhancing productivity of the grains proportion.  

Ironstone Energy would support farmers in the transition to more regenerative land practices, aligning with agri-environmental policies and encouraging custodianship of local soils.

The AD plant will provide local farmers with the opportunity to diversify their crop rotations and will support the investment needed to transition towards sustainable farming practices such as:

  • Minimising soil disturbance
  • Protecting soils from erosion
  • Building natural resilience through more diverse crop rotations
  • Substitution of artificial fertilisers with liquid and solid digestate
  • Reducing chemical and synthetic treatments
  • Reducing diesel use
  • Strengthen natural resilience against pests and disease
  • Provide more opportunities for cover and companion crops.

All of this will materially improve the ability of local farms to adapt to the effects of climate change and continue to produce reliable and nutritious food crops.

Discussing this model from the perspective of farmers, Dr Jonathan Scurlock, Chief Adviser, Renewable Energy and Climate Change at the National Farmers’ Union, has said: “There are clearly growing opportunities for profitable break crops in extended arable rotations to provide bioenergy feedstock for AD plants.  This will support national demand for low-carbon energy as well as our own agricultural net zero ambition, while also contributing to soil health and food production on the same land.  By working with Future Biogas, farmers can enable verifiable greenhouse gas removal or ‘negative emissions’.  It’s exciting that carbon dioxide captured by British-grown bioenergy crops can be permanently removed from the atmosphere in this way.”

Land management is complex, with farmers balancing needs for food and energy security as well as biodiversity. 

Ironstone Energy have committed to an annual community fund, for the lifetime of the AD plant of £40,000 per year. We manage community funds on behalf of many of the AD plants in our portfolio, supporting a significant number of local projects every year. The fund will accept applications on an annual basis. Funded projects have included new playground equipment, defibrillators, sports teams, community hall/church repairs, traffic calming equipment, outreach programs, food banks and biodiversity projects.