A major energy storage site to help meet demand across the Midlands looks set to be built on green belt land sandwiched between Hams Hall power station and HS2 on the outskirts of Lea Marston.
Members of North Warwickshire Borough Council’s planning board voted in favour of the plans at their meeting this week and the final decision will now be taken by the Secretary of State due to the scale of the proposed operation.
The storage site, which will consist of 158, 2.34 metre high battery containers, would provide a rapid-response electrical back-up to the National Grid, contributing to the UK’s progress in meeting its renewable energy target. The development would be decommissioned in 30 years and the land reinstated to its present condition.
A spokesman for applicants Welbar Energy Storage Ltd told the meeting: “Only Hams Hall has land and grid capacity available for a project of the right scale and we agree with your officer that this satisfies the very special circumstances needed to build on green belt land.
“We have listened to comments from statutory consultees and members and made adjustments to mitigate the effects of the project. The layout has been changed. Lea Marston [Parish Council] requested more planting on the eastern boundary and we are adding significantly more semi-mature trees and hedges. Lea Marston asked for a bund and we will work directly with the council to provide this.
“Household bills are soaring and getting higher because we rely on other countries for our power. We need to take back control of our supply and building projects like this will enable the UK to stop this unstable reliance on others and reduce our bills.”
Planning officer Jeff Brown confirmed that, following talks between the applicants and the parish council, a two-metre high bund will be added along the eastern and northern boundary with further planting on its eastern slope.
Cllr Margaret Bell (Con, Hartshill) said: “It’s always difficult when we talk about green belt because we have to take it seriously but I think this is a national strategic initiative that we need to support.
“The only thing I would say is that this does illustrate how some of our green belt is being ‘ungreened’ for various reasons. As a separate recommendation I would like us to look at our green belt again and a strategy where we can replace green belt damaged in this way. This is not a reflection on this application , just a general issue about the green belt which this has illustrated.”