Gaining planning for a Bedfordshire energy storage scheme

Project overview

Client: Harmony Energy
Location: Luton, Bedfordshire
Sector: Energy
Project status: Planning approved

PWA was instructed by Harmony Energy to provide pre-application and planning advice for an energy storage scheme in the Bedfordshire Green Belt near Luton.

What we did

The proposed site was on land at a farm adjacent to the M1 near the village of Chalton. It was chosen for energy storage because it provided existing electrical infrastructure immediately adjacent, making it technically and financially feasible.

The proposed development consisted of 77 banks of energy storage units and 20 transformers, together with ancillary equipment, with a footprint of around 1.06 hectares. The proposals included native hedgerow planting around the perimeter of the site to soften the appearance of the development.

Because of the green belt location of the site, there was significant local opposition. Our role, therefore, was to convince the LPA that the benefits of the scheme outweighed any harm to the Green Belt. The application was supported with various assessments, including a landscape and visual impact assessment, to demonstrate that harm was limited.

With a storage capacity of 49.5MW, the facility would save 15,543 tonnes of carbon emissions each year and provide vital grid balancing services to the National Grid. PWA also argued that the ‘very special circumstances’ which justified approving this development within the Green Belt also included the benefits to energy security and the increase in efficiency of renewable energy utilisation.

PWA was also able to demonstrate that the development represented sustainable development and complied with local planning policy, the National Planning Policy Framework, and other relevant considerations. Planning permission was secured in January 2019 with members of Central Bedfordshire Council’s Planning Committee voting in favour of the scheme in line with the officer’s recommendation.

PWA is working to discharge pre-commencement planning conditions on this scheme.

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