There was a lively debate in the council chamber on Thursday about Shropshire Council’s proposal for pyrolysis  plant. This will be located either in Ludlow, Bridgnorth – or Battlefield in Shrewsbury. The proposal, which will cost around £2 million was approved. A handful of councillors wanted to delay approval because they said there had not been sufficient consultation with members in the southwest and Ludlow Town Council. I agree that councillors could have been better briefed. I was though disappointed by councillors complaining and not wanting to grasp the opportunity. We are in a competition against Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury to get the facility located here. We need to grab the opportunity.

The Lib Dems put forward a proposal to delay any decision until the December council meeting. I could not for vote for that. The time to tackle the climate emergency is now. The time to grab the jobs in the low carbon economy is now. Ludlow pioneered anaerobic digestion (AD) at the Coder Road biodigester. It created around 120 AD jobs in the area. We can create that many jobs again. If we grab the opportunity.

Viv Parry kicked off the debate in the council chamber last Thursday. She said she would have liked to say she approved of the proposal (she did in the vote) but complained that the council had not had the courtesy to speak to her before the paper was put to council. “As things are at the moment, it was quite clear I was not important enough to speak to.“ She said she needed more information. There were aspects of the proposal she was not happy about after problems with the biodigester. She asked for more information, saying that along with Ludlow Town Council and Ludford Parish Council, she was concerned that nothing had been said to them.

I responded saying it is important that the council take a lead in the climate debate. Ludlow had the success of the biodigester. There were problems towards the end of its life when it was experimenting with different feedstocks, but it was experimental. I said I live very close to the biodigester and the smells were no different from living on the edge of farmland. I welcomed the project which I wanted to come to Ludlow.

Julian Dean (Green Party lead) said that he welcomed the proposal but the community concerns highlighted by Viv Parry should have been addressed. He wanted to see the proposal to go through.

Roger Evans (Lib Dem lead) expressed concerns about lack of consultation. He moved an amendment saying that a decision should be deferred. Dean Carroll responded that comprehensive email was sent out to local members in Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury on 12 September.

Heather Kidd concentrated on the lack of scientific information. She had concerns about the content of biochar and the feedstock. Will it take green bin waste, which includes food waste? She was concerned about temperature inversions. David Vasmer also complained that members were not well briefed. Shrewsbury Town Council was briefed but not Ludlow Town Council or Bridgnorth Town Council .

To me that suggests a decision on location was already made. They are lining up Battlefield alongside the incinerator which converts waste into greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

The Lib Dem motion for deferment was not approved. Only a handful of councillors voted for deferment. I voted against as we need to get on with tackling the climate emergency and I want this facility to come to Ludlow and create green jobs.

Tracey Huffer talked about setting an economic price for biochar that farmers could afford. Richard Huffer welcomed the proposal highlighting the benefits to agriculture. He highlighted the improvements in AD technology since the biodigester and the benefits of Coder Road as a location. We have the infrastructure. We have the expertise. We have the feedstocks for biodigestion.

In summing up, Dean Carroll responded to the questions on pricing made by Tracey and Richard Huffer. The business case [which most councillors have not seen] says the assumptions on the price for selling biochar are modest. As the feedstock will be from Veolia, the input costs are containable.

It seems like a decision has already been made on Veolia providing the feedstock. That tips the balance in favour of Battlefield in Shrewsbury, where Veolia has a base. That is perhaps why Shrewsbury Town Council was briefed and not Ludlow or Bridgnorth town councils. It is looking like another Conservative stitch up for Shrewsbury.

Ian Nellins, the Shropshire Council portfolio lead for climate change, said the project was not being done for income. It is for climate and meeting net zero targets. He also indicated that green bin waste may be charged for in the future. That would undermine any financial model for pyrolysis and Shropshire Council’s climate change objectives as green waste recycling will plummet.

The proposal for a pyrolysis plant was approved by a large majority. We don’t know how many voted for or abstained because the council chairman does not announce the details of individual votes but it was a clear majority.

I am disappointed there was no local consultation with Ludlow Town Council and Bridgnorth Town Council before this paper came to council.

If we are to get this cutting edge project to Ludlow, we need to work for it. Not gripe about it. We need to continue the legacy of the Ludlow Biodigester and once again put Ludlow at the forefront of green technology. That requires support from the town council and councillors who should not wait to be spoon fed information. They should grab an opportunity, grab the jobs and grab the future for Ludlow.

Media release: Councillors give their support for a pyrolysis plant in Ludlow

Shropshire councillors approved in principle a cutting edge pyrolysis plant last week. The plant will be located either in Ludlow, Bridgnorth or Shrewsbury. Ludlow councillors are putting the case forward for the plant to be located on the former biodigester at Coder Road.

Richard Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Clee and a farmer, said:

“This could be an important opportunity. There are still a large number of people employed in the biodigestion in the area. We have the skills base in Ludlow to make this technology a success. Pyrolysis creates biochar, a form of carbon that can be used a soil improver. It improves the performance of fertilisers and reduces run off from fields. That helps reduce flooding.

“There is no shortage of feedstock for a pyrolysis plant in southwest Shropshire. There is a lot of wood waste from the many woodlands in the area and from the Mortimer Forest.”

Tracey Huffer, Shropshire councillor for Ludlow East said:

“This is an opportunity to create skilled jobs in Ludlow. I hope there will also be apprenticeships and links to Ludlow College.

“There is a lot of work to do in understanding the market for biochar. The price needs to be set right so that local farmers can afford it. It doesn’t make sense to generate biochar from local waste and then transport it long distances to big farms that can afford the highest prices.

“We want this to come to Ludlow. The town has a reputation for creating new jobs, not just in technology but also food.”

Andy Boddington said:

“The UK anaerobic digestion (AD) industry was kickstarted here in Ludlow. There were once around 120 people employed in the AD industry within a ten mile radius of Ludlow. People visited the experimental plant in Ludlow from all over the country. Shropshire has the opportunity to once again lead the drive to recycle green waste into useable products and capture the methane generated to generate power for the plant and beyond.

“The former biodigester site on Coder Road sits alongside a long closed household recycling centre. This is an established waste processing site. It already has a connection to the Squirrel Lane substation to export power the grid. Ludlow has a strong commitment to the green economy and tackling the climate emergency. It is an ideal location.”

One thought on “Pyrolysis plant approved for Shropshire – I hope it can come to Ludlow”
  1. Hopefully this will not be in amongst housing as it was last time the smell was disgusting

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