VILLAGERS are celebrating after planners rejected a scheme to build a controversial green energy plant at Sparsholt College.

Winchester City councillors said the main reason for refusing the green gas mill was the lack of signed contracts restricting road use for drivers delivering fuel for the mill.

The contracts would set specific routes for drivers, avoiding towns and country lanes where possible, and would fine drivers that went off course.

Sparsholt’s anaerobic digester would need 60,000 tonnes of fuel per year – grass and rye feedstock sourced from local farms in a 15 mile radius – to produce power for the equivalent of 5,000 homes, including the college.

This would see a peak of 73 delivery trips to the college per day in May – 6.6 per hour – and a low of 20 per day from October to February.

However it was heard these contracts would not be signed until after the planning application was approved.

The application received 204 letters of objection.

Following the “disappointing” decision, applicant Ecotricity said they have not yet decided whether they will appeal.

Sparsholt College principal Tim Jackson said: “Without projects like this, it is mind-boggling to think how the ambition to generate 20 per cent of all energy within the area from renewable sources is going to be achieved.”

As previously reported, the site would include a renewable energy centre, where the college can train students to use the mill.

The college claimed the mill would pump £3 million into the local economy every year for the 20 years of its operation.

Micheldever farmer Douglas Patterson was not convinced the mill would be sustainable.

“I know of no other farmer that supports this application,” said Mr Patterson.

“We do not think Ecotricity can source all the grass from the 15 mile radius.”