Biomass - Using Anaerobic Digestion

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Environmental Impacts and Considerations- Planning Permission submission


A proposal for installation of a centralised community biogas plant will normally require completion of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before submission for planning permission. This can necessitate detailed assessment of the likely impacts on the surrounding environment should the plant reach construction.

The general format for EIA contains the following:

  1. Description of the project and the legislation pertaining to such developments
  2. An outline of the main alternatives studied by the applicant for consent and and indication of the main reasons for proposed choice
  3. A description of the aspects of the environment likely to be significantly affected by the proposed project, including, in particular,
    • Population
    • Air
    • Fauna
    • Climatic factors
    • Flora
    • material assets
    • Soil
    • Architectural and archaeological heritage
    • Water
    • Landscape
    • Inter-relationship between the above factors
  4. A description of the likely significant effects of the project on the environment in the short and long term.
  5. A description of the measures envisaged that would mitigate any significant adverse effects on the environment.
  6. A non-technical summary of the information provided under paragraphs 1 to 5.
  7. An indication of any difficulties (e.g. technical deficiencies) encountered by the applicant in compiling the required information.


The process of EIA production usually takes the following steps:

  • Screening - An assessment of the issues likely to be of significance relative to the project.
  • Scoping and discussions with planning office – It is common procedure to hold an initial meeting with the relevant planning office to ascertain the issues they feel that should be covered in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
  • Environmental Studies – Detailed assessment of relative issues – e.g. botanical studies, fauna assessment.
  • Preparation of EIS – Collation of all data.
  • Review by planning authority
  • Planning permission granted or refused, or request for more information

In relation to Biogas and AD systems in particular, we feel the following issues would require attention in an EIA preparation.

  • Identification and Mitigation Methods of Potential Hazards of Leachate from Plant and transport containers.
  • Identification, Assessment and Mitigation Methods of the Potential for Trafficking of Pathogens.
  • Risk Assessment – A HACCP is required under the Animal By Products Legislation so could be incorporated in EIS.
  • Identification and Quantification of Transport Hazards and Movements.
  • Identification of the impact of Building and site on Fauna, Flora, Landscape etc

Planning Authorities are required to consider National and Local legislation, development plans and policies when assessing proposed developments, and to base their decision on the contribution of a proposal to national and local targets in key policy areas.

The Legislation that the Planning Office must take into consideration when assessing the proposal for an Anaerobic Digestion Plant would include:

  • Planning Legislation –PAN 45 Renewable Energy
  • Local Waste Plan- which will reflect national legislation (Landfill Directive)
  • Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989
  • Agricultural and Rural Development
  • Upcoming Water Framework Directive legislation – Existing Nitrates Directive: Nitrate Vulnerable Zones in relation to animal manure waste treatment.