Readers may sympathise with local residents and parish councillors in Great Gonerby and Marston who are concerned about the approval to build an anaerobic digester to produce methane from local farm waste, but this is surely a much more sensible proposal than any alternatives.
Organic waste, be it agricultural or domestic, has to be treated; this is normally done by digestion in open lagoons with surface or submersible aerators which are powered by bought-in electricity.
The big advantage of an anaerobic system is that it generates enough methane to power not only its own pumps etc. but to put the surplus into the National Grid.
Methane produces more energy per kg burned and less CO2 than any other hydrocarbon. Since the digesters are totally enclosed there is much less risk of offensive odours such as the “Ponton Pong” reported in the Journal a few years ago when a conventional open-treatment aeration system went out of control.
Since every town and village has to treat its sewage and since manure from farms also has to be treated, some may ask why anaerobic digestion is not being more widely used.
That question should be addressed to the usual suspects—the accountants and politicians who make the cash available for such projects. Anaerobic digesters require more initial capital investment than traditional open-aerated systems and the usual suspects have for years been tempted by the cheaper short-term options, ignoring the fact that these will continue to demand more bought-in power, whereas methane digesters will continue to generate long-term income.
Lincolnshire County Council should be applauded for approving a project which, hopefully, will lead the way for many other such initiatives with both economic and ecological benefits.