Five-acre battery site plans spark anger from Barr Beacon campaigners
Plans to build a new five-acre electric battery base and substation near Barr Beacon have been opposed by environmentalists.
Arnesco has applied for planning permission to build the batteries underneath electric pylons off Chapel Lane, Great Barr, and have the backing of Walsall Council as the technology will help cut carbon.
However, residents believe the land needs to be protected against development and should be in the Great Barr Conservation Area.
Sadie Lambert, part of the Save Barr Beacon Greenland group, said: "The field should be staying in the conservation area so I don’t really know why they think they can get away with it
"The proposed planning application is to install a battery energy unit below the pylons in Chapel Lane, a green field site in the conversation area. Anesco are the developers and we are objecting to this as it will turn the site into brownfield."
She added: "The plans are for the field next to the graveyard, which is also ‘The Duckery’ for Great Barr Hall. This cannot happen. They have not given enough time for consultation."
Great Barr resident Jenny Hulme added: "I will be objecting. We need green energy but building on green belt land is not very green is it."
Anesco outlined the importance of the new battery systems to the national electric grid.
In a statement the firm said: "The proposal comprises of battery storage units, a substation, and the associated infrastructure, and landscaping. The substation is located on the West side of the site with underground cabling to the grid connection. The application area will be approximately five acres and planning permission will be sought for a period of 40 years.
"Standalone battery energy storage systems (BESS) have become an essential ingredient in how the UK manages and stores electricity, in particular renewable energy. Energy Storage is an advanced green technology with the ability to store and release electricity into the grid as required, offering energy security."
Arnesco also promised residents it would ensure the 40-year project would be good for local wildlife.
The company promised: "The construction of the Chapel Lane energy storage facility will ensure that appropriate land is planned carefully and maintained throughout the life of the development. This will include the creation of new hedgerow planting, screening the ESS containers from any impacted view. Currently the land is of Grade 3/4 land with very little biodiversity and the creation of hedgerows will not only encourage improved growth but will encourage more wildlife and contribute towards national biodiversity targets.
"A site-specific biodiversity plan will be devised to cover the lifetime of the proposed BESS, working closely with the local community, ecologists, and conservation organisations to ensure that the biodiversity enhancements are most appropriate to the local area."
Walsall Council has signed up to the sustainable development plan for the Black Country and to use of renewable and low carbon energy.