3.57 A programme of construction of new small to medium heat or CHP plants, incorporated into new housing or light industry developments, offers an opportunity for sensitive and innovative design. Modern biomass stations need not be ugly, and it is desirable, if they are to gain public acceptance, that they are well designed. The building needed to house a small to medium sized installation need not be large or intrusive. The generator at BedZED (Box 2D) is housed in a building the size of a small house, and is incorporated sensitively into the development. The wood-chip store and heat generating plant at West Dean (paragraph 3.7) is the size of a substantial agricultural shed, but sensitive planning has ensured minimal aesthetic impact of the plant; the chimney is camouflaged and walls sympathetic to neighbouring buildings improve the appearance of the plant. At both West Dean and BedZED, potential planning problems were avoided through discussion with those who would be affected by the building of the plant. The 36MW straw burning plant at Ely, Cambridgeshire incorporated a number of measures to reduce the visual impact of the plant76, including sinking the plant to 8m below ground level. The surplus clay removed during construction was used to build soundproofing landscape features that were planted with 12,000 mixed trees and shrubs and this is now used as a public recreational area.

3.58 Generators, particularly those powered by reciprocating engines, are inherently noisy, but to be acceptable to the community the local power plant must be close to silent. It is essential to design a high level of noise control into a scheme from the outset. At West Dean, noise problems were avoided by restricting the chipping to times when it would cause minimum disturbance. At BedZED, the plant is located close to the main buildings but has been adequately soundproofed so that no noise complaints have been made.

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