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6 December, 2006 - 14:35 By Staff Reporter

Farming group in the East of england planning to roll out its model nationwide

An East of England farming group, pioneer of an innovative biogas plant in Bedford, is planning to roll out its model nationwide, developing 10 green energy plants over the next five years.

Bedfordia Farm’s biogas generator project, which turns pig waste into methane and then electricity for the National Grid, has been operational since March.

The company, based at Milton Ernest near Bedford, now plans to utilise the skills set it has built up by developing a network of plants around the country.

Bedfordia’s existing multi-million pound plant relies on pig slurry, created by the farm’s resident herd, combined with food from homes, supermarkets and food manufacturers. The two reactants are combined, heated and fermented to produce methane gas.

The resulting methane gas is used to generate electricity at the rate of 0.75 to 1MW a year, enough to power 600-800 homes, the company said.

Running on from the success of this venture, Bedfordia is looking to expand its operations to other eligible farms around the country.

It wants to involve other farmers in a joint venture providing farmers with an added income.

“Our biggest selling point is that we’ve been there, done it and have an experienced team of people in place,” said Andrew Needham, managing director.

The Bedfordia Group, which has already diversified from traditional agriculture into property development and car sales, has identified a number of possible sites for its next wave of plants and is preparing to enter the feasibility study stage.

The waste food that goes into Bedfordia’s biogas reactors would generally be disposed of in landfill, but with the landfill tax currently at £21 per tonne and rising, food producers are looking elsewhere for refuse answers.

A case in point is the recent tie-up between Northampton bakery Oliver Adams, waste management company F & R Cawley and Bedfordia.

F & R Cawley has a contract with Bedfordia to divert over 30,000 tonnes of food waste into the biogas plant per annum.

The bakery has 29 shops in the Northants area which produce tonnes of general waste a year, and working with Cawley, it has found that 70 per cent of its waste can be recycled.

Oliver Adams has implemented a system at each shop whereby all the waste is segregated into colour-coded sealed bags and brought back to the bakery in Northampton.

The plastics and cardboard are baled, collected and then taken for recycling. The food waste is emptied into a specially sealed food skip, then taken weekly to the biogas plant for a totally green waste disposal.

Thomas Adams, managing director said: “The option of disposing of our food waste to anaerobic digestion at a Biogas Plant is one we hadn’t previously considered.

“We have reduced the amount of waste going to landfill by over 70 per cent, a big saving of landfill tax, which is predicted to rise exponentially year-on-year. ”

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