There have been quite a number of incidents at AD plants.

nobody built plant expecting it to fail but our experience is that all these plants are not perfect, and the regulation is important. To give you an example, there have been seven catastrophic failures recently within a nine month period, two of which were explosive in nature where the gas built up and the lids popped off and the walls blew out.”     EA December 2013: Ed Mitchell, executive director of environment and business at the Environment Agency, reporting to the House of Lords Science & Technology select committee, before the Harper Adams explosive incident.

Here is a link ( roughly translated ) that lists about 90 incidents in Germany alone since 2010, where there are already many AD plants.  There is a nationwide group campaigning against the proliferation of AD plants there, translated here.

The ZEBEC report 3458, HSE Incidents in Biogas Plants, 09/02/2011 [report summary click here ] lists 36 biogas plant explosions or serious fires reported on the internet in newspaper articles since 2003.

Environment Agency Pollution Incidents report 2013-14

Environment Agency Pollution incidents report 2012-13

  • Aug 2014 Explosion/fire at AD in Wisconsin destroys digester roof. Suspected methane ignited by electric exhaust fan.
  • Aug 2014 Pretoria Energy AD plant, Chittering, Cambs fined £20,000 ‘significant pollution’ of River Cam ‘demonstrates highly polluting nature of silage effluent’.
  • April 2014. Another major leak at Cannington, as yet [Nov15] no prosecution.
  • May 2014 AD explosive tank collapse. 2nd incident at Harper Adams AD plant, Shropshire. EA investigating. Youtube scene from Shropshire Star
  • Fernbrook Bio, Rothwell, Northamptonshire. County councillor said the plant should close if the smells were not stopped, residents say it ‘gives off a smell which the council promised would not be noticeable’, about 700m from homes.
  • 2013, Wrexham on-farm AD, botulism caused several fatalities in dairy herd when fresh undigested chicken muck was ‘inadvertently spread on grazing ground’ instead of being put in the digester.
  • June 2013 Bio Energy 2km from Cannington, Somerset locals reported smells, “mixture of dog’s muck and burnt plastic”, “even inside the house”.
  • Feb 2013  Swang Farm, Cannington 60 tonnes of digestate flooded from a pipe, fined £30,000 by EA
  • Feb 2013 major leak at Harper Adams flagship AD plant, Shropshire, flooded fields and watercourse when surrounding bund also failed.
  • 2013. £24 million Biffa AD at The Poplars, Cannock, Staffs, fighting “horrendous” odours for over a year and a half: affecting residents living over 800 metres away.
  • June 2012,  300,000 litres of  digestate from Clapham Biogas , Bedfordshire, overflowed when a pump was left on overnight, put down to human error, and polluted a mile of a nearby stream.
  • HL Foods in Lincolnshire were fined £140,000 by the EA for smells affecting the surrounding area, “a dead rat type smell”.
  • Residents living near a Plymouth AD plant reported “repugnant” smells.  “There will always be a level of odour” say the operators.
  • A ’foul stench’ from Shanks AD, Cumbernauld which still had problems with odour even after upgrading its biofilter monitoring system, nearest homes over 400m away.
  • One of the largest in Norway, Hera Vekst,’ since its start up residents have complained of odors generated by the facility’s activities’.
  • Farington, Lancashire;  “Before it was first built, there were three things they told us – it won’t be an eyesore, your property won’t be affected, and it won’t smell.  “Categorically all of them have been affected in a big way,”  a resident near Farington AD facility.  Raised exhaust stacks from 39′ to 82′ to ‘disperse the air better’. An admission that they cant stop the smell?
  • Blankenheimer, Germany (grass, corn and cattle manure and chicken manure) “ This leads to odor problems, there are continuous complaints.”
  • Osnabruck, Germany. “ It stinks to high heaven. In many parts of Hellerns Sutthausens and the stench is noticeable. Unpleasant Smell, corrosive, triggering nausea – as residents describe the smells intermittently, usually occurring late in the evening. The community group has formed itself, it calls for the decommissioning of the plant.”


  1. What can be done to close an stench producing ad plant 140 mts from my home,we go out to get away from ,also the generator is noisey .any help welcome .


    • Oh dear. I’d suggest complaining to your local council and the Environment Agency.


  2. We have the ea and council visit site and improvement notices are served ,leader of planing has also been and gaged on stench,ea are so very slow moving that I need the help of somebody whom has been though this and knows a good solicitor or planing consultant who knows what action can be taken,it will not be many days before the site operator Steven suggett ,ss agri services will start again bringing to site waste foods and the stench incress beyond breathing .help pls.


  3. We have just received notice of a planning application for an AD plant to be built 330 meters from our homes this will destroy this tiny community any help any one could give would be gratefully recived


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