RAF fears birdstrikes on Fairford if digester plan goes ahead

The MoD has written to planning bosses about the issue

A B2 at Fairford, the digester and the land earmarked for the effluent pool

Author: Aled Thomas, Local Democracy Reporting ServicePublished 2 hours ago

The prospect of birds attracted to a  nearby waste crashing into jets flying out of RAF Fairford has prompted a worried letter from air force bosses to Swindon Borough Council.

Planners at Euclid Street are working through an application  by Biomethane Castle Eaton Ltd to expand the existing  anaerobic digestion plant in Castle Eaton.

The company wants to put a fourth, much larger, digester on site as well as an effluent lagoon for run-off from new silage storage bays it wants to build and a rainwater pond and an office building and weighbridge.

The plans have drawn significant opposition from many people who live in the village concerned about the increase in lorry traffic they say will be needed to keep the plant fed with digestible material.

And because the site is close to RAF Fairford, the Ministry of Defence has also  written about its concerns,

The letter from the ministry to the borough council says:

“The principal concern of the MOD is the creation of new habitats may attract and support populations of large and, or flocking birds close to the aerodrome.

The principal concern in relation to this development in the vicinity of RAF Fairford relates to the potential increase in bird strike risk to aircraft operations as a result of the following: The addition of new silage clamps has the potential to result in an additional food source for hazardous birds such as Rooks. The rainwater and effluent lagoons likewise have the potential to attract birds such as gulls.”

The MOD has asked planners at the council to ensure if the scheme is approved the silage is covered when not in use, and the rainwater and effluent lagoons should be as small as possible, with steep sides and surrounded by a bird proof fence.

The MOD is also worried about the use of cranes when building the new plant and how that might endanger aircraft and has asked that the applicant must submit a plan for how tall structures will be used  during construction and get it signed off before starting work.

The ministry’s letter concludes:

“If Swindon Borough Council decides to grant planning permission contrary to our advice then we must be notified 28 days prior to a decision being made.”

The application is expected to come to the council’s planning committee later this year.

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