A borough landfill site which was due to close in 2020 will be transformed into a power plant, generating electricity from natural and waste gas for the next 20 years.
Plans to develop Rigby Landfill Site, located in green belt land on the outskirts of Standish, have been approved by Lancashire County Council - giving the owners the green light to use leachate and mains gas to produce electricity to sell to the Natonal Grid.
The “Inifinis Ltd” compound, which holds only biodegradable waste, was granted planning permission back in 1995 when contractors were given the green-light to extract minerals from the land.
Before the proposals were accepted, the site was due to close in 2020 and be fully restored within 12 months.
However, the owners have now gained permission to remain open until 2040 or until all of the gas runs out.
In order to complete the intended operation, above-ground development will need to take place, which is considered acceptable only under “very special circumstances”.
In a decision notice published by LCC, planning officers wrote: “It is considered that there would ordinarily be limited very special circumstances for the establishment of natural gas electricity generating plant within the green belt as this could be located elsewhere.
“However, the additional development required to generate electricity from natural gas would have a very limited visual impact due to its small scale and location within the existing gas compound and there is existing infrastructure including a suitable grid connection at the site that could be utilised.
“This being the case, the limited potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm resulting from the proposal, is clearly outweighed by the circumstances that have been presented subject to the removal of the compound and associated infrastructure following the cessation of active gas and leachate management.
“This could be for a period beyond 2050. To ensure the situation is monitored and the need reassessed, it is consider that a time limit of 2040 be imposed.”
Neighbouring Adlington Town Council put up no objection to the plans, leaving it up to the neighbours to comment individually.
There were also no objections put forward by Chorley Borough Council, the Coal Authority, the Environment Agency or the Lancashire County Council Development Control Highways.
The site will continue to operate under an Environmental Permit, meaning that noise and emissions are controlled and relevant water resources are protected.