Food & Water Watch Files Legal Challenge to Factory Farm Biogas Facility in Georgetown

Appellants argue CleanBay Renewables’ conditional use permit is null and void


Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, Food & Water Watch, alongside and on behalf of local residents, filed a legal challenge to a recent zoning decision in Sussex County, regarding CleanBay Renewables’ planned factory farm biogas facility in Georgetown. The appellants argue that the  Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission’s decision to sustain the company’s conditional use permit, which gives CleanBay permission to build its heavy industrial facility in an agricultural and residential area, was made unlawfully. Specifically, appellants allege that the Commission not only exceeded its authority by making the decision in the first place, but it also acted without proof of “substantially underway” construction as defined in Sussex County Code.

Appellants are asking the Sussex County Board of Adjustment to reverse the Commission’s decision and declare the company’s permit null and void. The CleanBay Renewables project is one of two factory farm biogas facilities vying for environmental permits in Delaware, along with the nearby Bioenergy Devco facility proposed near Seaford. These factory farm biogas projects are part of a growing trend in agribusiness companies’ exploitation of clean energy mandates, while not actually reducing emissions or agricultural pollution. Given the public health, safety and environmental threats of factory farm biogas, a voided permit would be a victory for nearby residents, who staunchly opposed the facility when it was first proposed in 2018.

With the filing, Food & Water Watch Delaware Organizer Greg Layton issued the following statement:

“Factory farm biogas has no place in our communities. We already bear the brunt of agricultural pollution from factory farms taking over our rural areas. Factory farm biogas operations like CleanBay’s will only further pollute our air, our water and make dangerous truck traffic the norm on our roads. Stopping factory farm biogas from taking root in our region begins by holding our local government accountable to the people — not industry. The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission noted that this company did not do what they needed to do to maintain their conditional use permit and chose to look the other way. The Board must reverse their unlawful decision and declare CleanBay Renewables’ permit null and void.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]