Tycoon to close green power generator site

A pioneering green energy plant which made electricity out of farm waste is to shut down.

Friday, 20th May 2016, 12:00 pm
Fyllde MP Mark Menzies and Simon Rigby at the opening of Farmgen at Carr Farm in 2011
Fyllde MP Mark Menzies and Simon Rigby at the opening of Farmgen at Carr Farm in 2011

Fylde entrepreneur Simon Rigby said the £3m anerobic digestion facility at Carr Farm, Warton, will close following changes in regulations.

His company Farmgen uses the technology to generate electricity at a series of sites but the Fylde pilot scheme is now to be decommissioned.

The plant, designed to convert farm crops and agricultural surpluses into electricity for the grid, was built in 2011 to test the technology with debt funding from the Co-op Bank and a five-year fixed electricity sales contract with Marks and Spencer.

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Since commissioning in 2010, the plant has generated enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,000 homes from renewable sources.

Mr Rigby said: “The Co-op withdrew from green projects 12 months ago.

“Marks and Spencer’s initial contract is coming to an end which was deliberately generous to help the UK on-farm anaerobic digestion business but the current market price makes the plant economically marginal at best.

“Due to problems elsewhere in the industry, the Environment Agency is encouraging us to make £350,000 of alterations to the plant and therefore I decided to re-evaluate the project.

“The review concluded we were better off moving on and focusing on our mainstream AD plant at Dryholme, Silloth, Cumbria.”

He said the removable equipment will be transferred to Dryholme to expand its output and all the staff will be offered alternative employment within his operations.

Mr Rigby added: “Carr Farm was a pilot of a new design and has served its purpose.

“Decommissioning is due to be completed by the end of June 2016.”

The plant was planned to be a series of AD centres from Farmgen with Simon Rigby’s owned stable of farms being involved in the production of material for the gas generators.

It was officially opened by Fylde MP Mark Menzies.

At the time Farmgen hoped to carry out a £30m expansion programme to take the number up to around 10 similar plants, after learning lessons from the original pilot scheme

The plant at Silloth will continue in operation.

It can use silage and grass from nearby farms to produce enough gas to generate 2.0 mega watts of electricity – enough to provide continuous power for more than 4,000 homes in the local area.