PLANS for a new renewable energy plant near Winchester have divided its local parish.

Sparsholt College’s anaerobic digester – a large biogas producing boiler – has caused concern amongst its parishioners who have cited issue with traffic problems, smell and its size.

College officials have claimed the plant will produce around 5mgw of energy – enough to power 1,330 kettles at once – though the size of it has yet to be confirmed.

Up to three of these individual components, fed on grass and maize, will be based on the site which will look like an average dairy farm.

It is hoped the site will create jobs for college students, and the excess produce from the digesters will be used as fertiliser across the agricultural college grounds.

But Sparsholt Parish Council has cited concern with the project, worried about large tractors bringing in crops to feed the digesters and clogging up single-track roads.

Though a formal application has yet to be submitted, chairman Sue Wood said: “Without any formal discussions with Tim, the council is not able to comment at this time. However we would like to say that the implications on the village, with its single-track roads, are our top-most priority.”

Mr Jackson responded: “We have, of course said to the parish council that we will be continuing with the consultative dialogue with them and providing appropriate information when this becomes available, to local residents concerning any of the ideas and plans at a formative stage which is exactly what we have done in the past.

“We are delighted to be developing a range of sustainable technologies at the college in line with the emerging skills needs of employers in the land based sector where sustainable energy is now an important strand of economic activity and of the skills required of professional land managers and the employed workforce of the future.”

Countryside campaigner Douglas Paterson, chairman of Keep Hampshire Green, called the digester a “monster in green clothing”.

“I’m against the system,” he said. “I’m pro-renewable energy but it’s got to be the appropriate thing in the right place and must reduce carbon emissions and everything I’ve read is not the case.

“The whole point of renewable energy is to reduce our impact on the environment and to replace fossil fuels, and coal in particular. There are many different ways in which we have an impact on the environment, both locally and globally. The Sparsholt proposal is bad. It would be terribly intrusive for the community of Sparsholt and would have a poor environmental footprint.

“It’s a monster. People just don’t understand the figures and they will realise this is the wrong proposal in the wrong place.”