Biogas (not biomass) plant up for debate

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The farmer behind plans for a green energy initiative at Standhill Farm near Minto is keen to set the record straight on his organic blueprint – and cast aside misconceptions over the groundbreaking development for a biogas unit at the heart of the project.

A proposal by Jim Shanks, of Standhill Dairy and Cheese Farm, for installation of a wind turbine and biogas unit is up for discussion at the forthcoming Denholm Community Council meeting.

In the last few days, there has emerged confusion among some local people regarding a part of the proposals, with two community council members having told the Hawick News of plans for a biomass unit at the farm. Mr Shanks is keen to point out that his proposals include a biogas unit alongside a wind turbine.

The misunderstanding would appear to centre around similar labels. Given recent public reaction to such proposals in Scotland, a biomass unit – viewed by some as a wood-guzzling, inefficient method of energy production – could be cause for consternation.

Biogas, meanwhile, is a carbon negative, environmentally friendly process of generating electricity through the breakdown of slurry, and a development at Standhill would represent a first for Scotland.

“Using the slurry is an excellent source, because it’s there anyway,” explained Mr Shanks. “We would save on 80 tonnes of fertiliser every year, and I’m planning a completely organic system to feed the biogas and the cows.”

Mr Shanks said that energy from the wind turbine and biogas unit would increase production at his dairy and could lead to him recruiting at least four full-time members of staff.

The local public, however, are divided on the issue, with some suggesting that an alternative source of energy production for the area must be considered.

Hawick News reader Sandy Murray said of the turbine proposal: “It’s all about money. There are other ways of producing energy. This town was built on water – the mills ran on it.”

Denholm Community Council is set to discuss the biogas development proposals at the village hall on Wednesday at 7pm.