Express & Star

Huge battery park plan for Great Barr green belt land set to be refused

A controversial plan to create a huge battery park on Great Barr green belt land is set to be rejected following hundreds of objections.

Last updated
Land where developers hope to create a proposed battery energy storage system. PIC: Anesco Ltd

Anesco Ltd is looking to create a battery energy storage system (BESS) on a field adjacent to The Duckery in Chapel Lane which would be capable of importing and exporting around 49.35 megawatts of electricity.

As part of the proposal, a substation, 28 storage units, 14 transformers and other equipment would be placed on the site.

But the plans sparked huge opposition with 300 representations being made by residents to council planning officers objecting to the impact it would have on the Green Belt and Great Barr Conservation Area.

They also raised a raft of other concerns including the impact it would have on neighbours, environmental concerns and the increase in traffic.

A report to planning committee said there were also objections from politicians including Walsall South MP Valerie Vaz, neighbouring Sandwell Council and a host of other groups including Historic England, Beacon Action Group and Group of Ramblers.

In their application, Anesco said the development would be there for around 40 years and provide a renewable energy storage facility which would be sensitively accommodated in the area.

And they added the ‘very special circumstances’ needed to develop on Green Belt land included an ‘urgent need to secure renewable energy’, Walsall’s bid to be carbon neutral by 2050, limited impact on the landscape and minimal harm to the area.

But planning officers have recommended the proposal be refused when committee meets on Thursday.

A report said: “Whilst it is acknowledged that there is a need for the proposed energy storage facility, the site’s location within the Green Belt and the Great Barr Conservation Area are considered to be significant constraints on the development which in this case, prevent its recommendation for approval.

“When viewed collectively, the introduction of a new development of an industrial style appearance which is inappropriate development in the Green Belt and will reduce the spatial and visual openness of the Green Belt, alongside the failure to preserve and enhance the setting of the Great Barr Conservation Area and surrounding heritage assets, will result in substantial harm to both the Green Belt and the Great Barr Conservation Area.

“The very special circumstances presented by the applicant in relation to the benefits of the proposal in providing a renewable energy storage facility are acknowledged and afford significant weight, however, given the substantial scale of the collective harm both to the Green Belt and the Conservation Area, in this case the overall benefits of the proposal are not considered to outweigh the overall harm, when considering the application as a whole.

“For these reasons, it is considered that very special circumstances do not exist, and that the proposed development should be resisted.

“Therefore, given that there are no material planning considerations in support of the proposals it is concluded that this application should be recommended for refusal.”