Artemis’ purpose in purchasing Crouchlands is to bring forward in due course plans for the long term development and operation of rurally-orientated and environmentally sustainable business enterprises which will improve the use of the site, blend in well with the local community and provide sound employment opportunities.
Artemis believes that any future development plans for Crouchlands must recognise the needs of the local community, be in step with the two local Neighbourhood Development Plans, be subject to wide ranging public consultation and be in full co-operation with Chichester District Council. Our proposals will, of course, be subject to appropriate planning applications and permissions.
Artemis can also confirm that it will not operate any biogas or similar Anaerobic Digestion operations at Crouchlands in the future.
The Crouchlands Farm site was put into Receivership in 2017 by the then owner, following the failure of two businesses operating on the site called Crouchland Farm Limited and Crouchland Biogas Limited, both of which were in Administration until 10 January 2019. West Sussex Agri Limited (“WSA”), the owner of Artemis, was the senior creditor in the Receivership and the Administrations.
WSA has already to date, and on a voluntary basis, provided in excess of £1.3m to the Joint Administrators to enable them to carry out the essential clean-up on the site and maintain safety and stability. This has included environmental restoration of ditching and drainage and emptying of the three Anaerobic Digester tanks and two of the lagoons.
Artemis, as the new owner of Crouchlands, will be continuing with the current clean-up of the biogas site and the environmental restoration and improvement programme across the farm. Artemis anticipates that this work will take another 6-12 months.
Commenting on the purchase of Crouchlands, Anthony Fairbanks Weston, Chairman of Artemis, said:
“Once the issues that confronted Crouchlands became fully clear to us, we were determined to identify the right solutions, both to the environmental challenges and for the long term future of the site. This has necessarily been a complex and expensive process. As a next step, we are pleased to have completed this purchase from the Receivers.
“Central to our proposals for the future of Crouchlands will be rural sustainability, protecting the environment, contributing to the growth of the local economy and supporting local businesses with new jobs.”
Following the ending of the Receivership and two Administrations the responsibility for the area known as Lagoon 3 has now reverted to the original landowner and operator of the biogas plant.
All interested parties now eagerly await news on how the Environment Agency now intends to enforce the required clean up of Lagoon 3 and provide the necessary assurances regarding public safety and protection of the local environment.
Lagoon 3 contains a substantial quantity of liquid and solid material which is understood to contain a high proportion of methane. It will separately and very evidently require a detailed expert analysis and risk assessment to determine the safest decommissioning solution.
Artemis has consistently made it clear to the appropriate authorities that it is willing to contribute to the steps necessary to assist the decommissioning of Lagoon 3. For example, Artemis retains certain infrastructure that may assist in the first step, which is the necessary removal of liquids from the lagoon.