Britain’s first ever dung-fired power station started operating on Thursday, taking the excrement of nearly 5,000 cows and lighting up homes around the north coast of Devon.

There was no fanfare, nor any celebrity opening for the Holsworthy Biogas plant, which will take dung from 28 local dairy farms, using it to generate electricity and heat water for local schools, hospitals and even a swimming pool.

“One of our two gas generators was fired up last night, and we’re hoping to get the other started today,” Charles Clarke of Holsworthy Biogas told Reuters.

The 7.7 million pound project, a 50-50 joint venture between Farmatic of Germany and a firm to be owned by local farmers, will feed enough electricity into the National Grid to light up about 900 homes.

Clarke said that the local community’s early worries about smell had given way to support for the pioneering eco-venture.

“We’ve been bringing slurry in for six weeks now, and there’s been no problem,” he said.

Slurry is fermented for about 20 days, generating methane for the gas-fired generators. Having been treated to remove deadly spores such as tuberculosis and foot-and-mouth, the waste sludge is then returned to local farms as fertilizer.