A “DARK shadow” has lifted for Eastham residents after plans for a biodiesel production plant have been put on the back burner.

Agri Energy is delaying the submission of a planning application for its proposed Eastham facility given the short term uncertainty and depressed outlook in the sector.

The company, which creates energy from renewable and sustainable sources such as biodiesel and bio-fuel, have 30 plants throughout the UK and Ireland.

A spokesman for Agri Energy said: “Agri Energy remains committed to the bio energy sector. Its strategy of securing low carbon sustainable feed stocks such as tallow and recovered vegetable oils continues to strongly underpin its business model.

“Agri Energy will proceed with its bio diesel investment once there is greater clarity on the impact of the recent dilution of bio fuel mandates across the EU, as well as certainty with regard to the elimination of trade distorting subsidies currently unfairly supporting the US and Argentinean bio diesel industry.

“Agri Energy will review its ongoing development plans in the second half of 2009.

Eastham Liberal Democrat Councillor Phil Gilchrist said: “For much of the past year Agri’s plans cast a dark shadow over the homes in Eastham. News that the plans are being held up is welcome.

“I’d rather hoped they had given up on the site altogether. A long period of uncertainty casts a cloud of blight until it is removed entirely.

“In the meantime there is a breathing space. We must renew our efforts to convince the landowners, Peel Holdings, that there has to be a buffer zone around Eastham, keeping heavy industry and huge plants away from homes.”