Firewood business falls foul of North Warwickshire planners

Biomass boilers exceed emissions standards

Planning permission was refused for three biomass boilers and their flues at Arden Firewood.
Planning permission was refused for three biomass boilers and their flues at Arden Firewood.

A Furnace End firewood business will have to go back to the drawing board after planning permission was refused for three biomass boilers and their flues which are housed in a newly-constructed farmyard building.

Members of North Warwickshire Borough Council’s planning board heard that the company, Arden Firewood, had been using the equipment without the necessary permission and that neighbours of the premises at Laxes Farm, Nuneaton Road, had not been able to use their garden.

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Planning officer Jeff Brown told Monday's meeting of the board: “Our environmental health officers have clearly indicated to us that the standard of the emissions does not meet our supplementary planning document on air quality. That means that there is a recommendation for refusal.

“We are recommending that if planning permission is refused, enforcement action be taken to cease the use of the boilers such that discussion and negotiation can continue with the applicant to see if we can get a revised application which would be satisfactory to the applicant, environmental health officers and local residents.”

An officer’s report explained that Arden Firewood began around 2017. The business cut, dried and stored wood ahead of it being delivered to customers for their domestic heating.

The report added that new regulations in 2020 required changes to the moisture content of the resulting product which meant the wood needed to be drier.

It explained: “In order to achieve the new standard, the boilers were installed at the site within the new building prior to May 2021 so as to better dry the cut wood and thus be compliant with the new legislation. They were installed early in 2020 but the application to retain them was only submitted in late 2020.”

Neighbour Lesley-Anne Burnham told the meeting of problems faced by those living close to the biomass boilers.

She said: “We purchased our much-loved home in 2013, many years before the implementation of Arden Logs and, frankly, would never have made the purchase had such an offensive operation already been in situ.

“We are now subject to endless foul smoke emissions, nuisance noise including chainsaw and heavy machinery operation and experience this at all times of the day and night. We cannot open windows or enjoy our outside space.”

A representative for the applicant said smoke levels had been significantly reduced since the boilers had been serviced but councillors unanimously opposed the plans and backed an enforcement notice being issued to stop the boilers from being used.

Cllr Ray Jarvis (Con, Atherstone North) said: “It doesn't seem to be an operation that is very well controlled or one that is very close to being environmentally friendly. When you look at the boilers, they look a bit Heath Robinson to me - more akin to the 1800s. It is just a boiler with a flue that sticks up in the air that chucks all the rubbish out.”