'Unwelcome' green belt battery storage site plan at Great Barr thrown out
Plans to create a huge battery storage site on green belt land in Great Barr would have been an “unwelcome intrusion” to the area.
Walsall Council’s planning committee threw out a proposal by Anesco Ltd to create a battery energy storage system (BESS) on a field adjacent to The Duckery in Chapel Lane because of the harm it would have caused the Conservation Area.
Had it been approved, it would have been capable of importing and exporting around 49.35 megawatts of electricity and featured 28 storage units, 14 transformers and other equipment on the site.
But the plan sparked fierce opposition with hundreds of people opposing it for reasons including the impact on the area and the increase in traffic.
Anesco said the development would be there for around 40 years and provide a renewable energy storage facility which would be sensitively accommodated.
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.
They added they had explored other options but found no alternative sites which could accommodate the BESS.
Officers recommended committee members refuse the application because it would be inappropriate for the Green Belt, adding Anesco had not demonstrated any special circumstances to enable it.
Members of the planning committee rejected the plan at a meeting on Thursday.
Resident Bob Winkle said: “We welcome the refusal for what would be an unwelcome intrusion in the green belt and conservation area.
“Chapel Lane is a unique gateway into the borough of Walsall and is such a very special place.
“The lanes and landscape bring a welcome and necessary openness to the area which is really beneficial in providing a peaceful place in the countryside away from the bustle of the nearby metropolis.
“We understand the need to preserve energy but this type of development has to outweigh the harm it brings to the community and to the welfare of all it serves and it fails this test.”
Ward councillor Chris Towe said: “This is a substantial development within the green belt and the Great Barr Conservation Area.
“The size of the site is 2.07 hectares – the equivalent of four football fields - and has an extended lifespan of 40 years.
“The construction of such a large battery facility would radically change the current open character of the conservation area. Such commercial development in the Green Belt is not appropriate or acceptable.”