Energy storage facility allowed on appeal

An energy storage facility has been given the go-ahead by a planning inspector for Green Belt land on the edge of South Staffordshire.

South Staffordshire District logo
South Staffordshire District logo

The plans for land off South Staffordshire Railway Walk at Castlecroft, near Lower Penn, were refused permission by South Staffordshire Council because the development was considered inappropriate and harmful to the Green Belt.

Balance Power Projects Ltd appealed against the decision and planning inspector Tamsin Law has allowed the proposal to go ahead. The decision notice stated: “I have concluded that very special circumstances exist to justify inappropriate development in the Green Belt that would reduce openness.

“The appeal is allowed and planning permission is granted for construction, management and operations of a battery based electrical storage scheme with associated infrastructure, together with access improvements, internal access tracks, vehicular parking, herringbone filtered drains, security measures and landscaping works.”

More than 100 objections were submitted to South Staffordshire Council in response to the application. Objectors raised concerns about access to the site and environmental impact and said permission had already been granted for a facility to be built nearby.

Two more applications for battery energy storage facilities on land at Penstone Lane, Lower Penn, are due to be considered by South Staffordshire Council’s planning committee on Tuesday (September 27). Both have received more than 50 objections each, but both have been recommended for approval by planning officers.

A report to the committee said: “It is noted that a similar proposal located approximately 2.3km northeast of the site has recently been allowed on appeal.

“The proposal is inappropriate development and the impact on openness would be moderate until proposed planting is established, reducing to a limited impact in the medium/longer term. This harm by reason of inappropriateness and harm to openness is given substantial weight.

“National policy advises that developments should be located where impacts are, or can be made, acceptable. I consider that the location of the proposed development, adjacent to an existing substation, together with the existing and proposed landscaping means that this would be the case here.

“Additionally, whilst the proposed development would be located at the site for a number of years, it is reversible and capable of being removed from the site. Therefore, I consider that the significance of such projects in supporting the government’s national strategy of decarbonising the country’s energy system, and the fact that the impacts can be made acceptable, are sufficient to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt.”

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