PLANS for a waste and power plant on the outskirts of Holmes Chapel have been refused by Cheshire East Council after three and a half years.

Since 2012, brownfield site owner and dairy farmer Ray Brown has been fighting to get the green light for the anaerobic digestion plant in Twemlow and Goostrey which could provide energy for 5,000 homes.

The AD plant would use biodegradable waste such as grass cuttings, manure and leftover food to create power, fertiliser and water.

According to the council, now was the right time to make a decision as ‘residents deserved an answer’ and as a result the strategic planning board refused the plans at a meeting on Wednesday August 26.

Cheshire East Council made the decision based on their ‘findings’ that problems with odours could not be mitigated so close to homes and the possibility of the 60 year old tanks not being gas tight.

However, Ray believes that the community has missed out on an opportunity for a renewable energy plan that would benefit everyone in the surrounding villages.

He said: “A lot of local people would have benefited from the project. It would have made the area self-sustainable.

“The only thing we were refused the permit on was the odour and we have got the odour levels to less than a third of what they need to be to be accepted.

“We made sure there was a collection point at the north and the south of the site to reduce traffic and our odour mitigation plans are above and beyond what’s required so we didn’t have any problems on that front.

“I just don’t know how on Earth a project like this could be refused. It is one of the greenest projects."

An odour management plan was received in April 2014 in which the Environmental Agency voiced ‘significant concerns’ that the site could result in significant odour pollution.

But Ray, who was due to have a meeting with the Agency and under secretary of state, Rory Stewart on September 3 is disappointed that the council decided not to wait for the outcome.

“We went through various issues with the consultant who said there was nothing wrong with the plan of the site,” he said. “There are a number of measures we put in place. If there was a blip there are so many things we could do, it is a completely solid system.

“I was really quite convinced that when I explained everything to the council they would delay the decision until we had the meeting.”

Ray has 12 months to reapply with plans for the site, but he remains undecided on what to do next.

“I’m not sure what to do now- but something has to be done with the site. I don’t know  whether to get involved with a bigger company to do it; I always said that would be my last resort.

“The question is do I let another company that is already doing AD plants take the lion’s share?”