Aerial view from the church around the Wiltshire village of Bromham in Wiltshire, near to the towns of Calne, Melksham, Devizes and Chippenham

Farmer says he will explain controversial plan face to face

By Bromham Webmaster, Jul 13 2017 08:11PM

FARMER Jim Butler is about to resubmit plans for a large concrete platform and a track across an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which last year caused an outcry in Etchilhampton, near Devizes.

But Mr Butler, who owns 2,700 acres of land in villages surrounding Devizes, says this time he will go in person to Etchilhampton to speak to the parish council and villagers.

He said this week: “I should have gone before to explain what I want to do and why. But I was taken by surprise by the opposition and so decided to withdraw the plan.”

The project which affects Etchilhampton is part of a £8 million scheme for an an anaerobic digester at Mr Butler’s Bromham House Farm, Bromham.

The digester, which is due to go live by the end of July, will convert cattle waste into both gas and electricity as part of a project with Wales and West Utilities.

Mr Butler said: “It will be green energy. It will produce enough gas to power between 5,000 and 6,000 homes. A pipeline from the the digester out to main supply on the main road has already been laid and we are nearly ready to go live.”

Mr Butler, whose family have farmed in Bromham since the time of the English Civil War, explained that as part of the scheme he wanted to be able to store chopped up energy crops such as maize and rye grown on land in All Cannings and Etchilhampton on a large concrete pad at Manor Farm in All Cannings.

He said: “It would be surrounded by a lagoon which would take any run off to prevent contamination.

“At the moment our farm vehicles have to use the small lanes between All Cannings and Etchilhampton which are very dangerous for large vehicles. The track would allow us to move between the two farms without using the ordinary road.”

The crops stored in All Cannings at a farm run by John Curnick, who is related to Mr Butler, would then be taken to Bromham to fuel the digester.

In October villagers in Etchilhampton expressed their fears about the scheme and there were also concerns from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Sustainable Devizes, Kennet CPRE and North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty who all wrote to Wiltshire Council to object.

The wildlife trust pointed out worries about river contamination. It’s head of conservation Stephen Davis said: “It is most concerning to hear of the proposals to store such large volumes.”

Gazette and Herald - 6 June 2017

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View from the tower of SAt Nicholas Church, Bromham, Wiltshire