Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 15:48 UK

Power firm fights for food waste


See how waste pasties are being turned into electricity

by Jonathan Morris
BBC News South West

A dung-fuelled power station in Devon is facing opposition to plans to create 100% of its energy from food waste.

The Holsworthy Biogas complex in north Devon currently turns animal and food waste into renewable electricity for the National Grid and bio fertiliser.

But the plant owners want to stop taking animal waste from June because it has proved uneconomical to process.

It has asked for permission to change its licence to take just food waste which produces more power per tonne.

More power

The 7.8m plant, funded with 3.8m from Europe, started operating in 2003 and was the first of its type in the UK.

It uses methane produced mainly from locally-collected farm waste to power generators, with the potential to power about 1,000 homes.

But current owner Summerleaze Andigestion says the plant can produce at least seven times more power per tonne from food waste than farm waste.

Jake Prior, the plant operations director, said: "Because of the limits you get on animal slurries, that limits the amount of renewable power that you can make."

Pasty maker Ginsters in Callington now sends about 20 tonnes of its waste food to the plant every week.

Production manager Ray Hanly said: "We have a commitment to the community and sending our waste streams to Holsworthy is an excellent solution as it reverses sending it to landfill."

'Principle destroyed'

Objectors say there will be more lorry traffic and the plant should be forced to stick with its original planning permission which restricts the amount of food waste it can take.

Derek Hilleard, who has called on Devon County Council to block the change, said: "It completely destroys the whole principle behind the plant.

"It was built to take slurry from farms."

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