Devon power plant leaves debts of more than £50m

A huge Devon power plant where a worker was killed has collapsed into administration leaving debts of more than £50m. Troubled Willand Biogas LLP, which turns farm waste into energy, called in administrators in May after failing to attract vital cash to keep it operating.

And now it has been revealed that the company has enormous debts with administrators warning that, unless the plant can be sold, creditors could be left owed a combined £51.5m. Most of that is owed to a lender but more than £2.38m is owed to unsecured creditors and they have been warned not to expect any cash.

Company directors have yet to submit a statement of affairs but administrators at London-based restructuring and recovery specialists Moorfields Advisory Ltd have estimated that secured creditor Privilege Project Finance Ltd (PPF) is owed £48,538,557, with secondary preferential creditor HM Revenue and Customs owned £549,137 in unpaid tax, and unsecured creditors owed £2,439,501.

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It is not known how much the creditors will receive but a report setting out the administrator’ proposals said: “At this stage, there are a considerable number of variables which will have an impact on the final return to creditors, however, we consider it is unlikely that there will be sufficient surplus assets to enable a dividend to be paid to non-preferential creditors.”

Willand Biogas LLP was incorporated in 2015 and owns a large biogas facility about 30km from Exeter. The plant can produce 1000m3/h of biogas via anaerobic digestion with the biomethane produced going straight into the national grid.

The new report, filed at Companies House, said Willand Biogas fell into financial difficulties in the first three months of 2024 and defaulted on payments to PPF. The lender tried to sell the business but no one wanted it and, with creditors and suppliers threatening to wind it up, shareholders decided to call in administrators.

The assets of the company have been put on sale but the valuation has not been disclosed. Six offers were received and an additional period was allowed for improved offers. This closed on June 19 and administrators are now assessing the offers. The plant is currently closed on “standby mode”.

In 2020, Carl Parsons, aged 34, died when he was electrocuted by high voltage overhead cables while working on a cherry picker at Willand Biogas. Mr Parsons, from Plymouth, was helping to clean the company’s large biogas tanks. An inquest heard major health and safety failings led to his death. A jury returned a conclusion of accidental death.

Parties interested in the Willand Biogas plant should contact ssartin@moorfieldscr.com or call 0207 1861144.

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