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Home » Permission Refused For Battery Compound Described As ‘crucial’ For Region’s Electricity Network

Permission Refused For Battery Compound Described As ‘crucial’ For Region’s Electricity Network

Councillors have turned down a proposal for a battery compound in the countryside north of Bristol that was described as “crucial” for lowering energy bills and averting blackouts

South Gloucestershire’s elected members cited the preservation of the open countryside as the reason for rejecting Immersa’s plans for a 200-megawatt battery site at Earthcott Farm.

The company behind the contentious project suggested it might pursue a legal challenge against the refusal. Their representatives have argued that the facility would be vital in ensuring continuous power supply to critical infrastructure such as schools and hospitals.

The decision was made by the spatial planning committee of South Gloucestershire Council on Thursday, June 20, after considering input from local residents and councilors who voiced their objections.

Speaking on behalf of Alveston Parish Council, Marion Reeve expressed opposition, saying: “Do we really want vast amounts of the country becoming wind farms, solar farms and now battery farms? Lithium explosions are very dangerous. Nuclear is also known to be dangerous – the difference with this project is the nuclear plants are not being built in a field behind homes where the people of Earthcott live. This is absolutely horrendous, to have something like this so close.”

Avon Fire and Rescue experts had reviewed the safety measures proposed in the planning application and had no objection to the battery compound’s construction, provided adequate fire safety provisions were implemented, reports Bristol Live.

Sian Griffiths, speaking on behalf of Immersa, highlighted the significance of the proposed development: “This development would provide energy security to the 300,000 people in South Gloucestershire, protecting the electricity supply in the event of a grid failure. This proposal comprises 200 megawatts of storage capacity, sufficient to supply the homes in South Gloucestershire and Stroud with power for six hours. This project will protect schools, homes, hospitals and emergency services from power blackouts on the wider grid.”

She added: “This isn’t just about net zero. Gas-fired generators using expensive imported natural gas have massively increased energy bills over the last two years. Battery storage helps reduce energy bills by undercutting these expensive generators and maximising the use of low-cost renewable energy, crucial in this cost-of-living crisis.”

Despite these arguments, the committee ultimately rejected the application due to the location being within the Green Belt, an area designated to remain undeveloped. The refusal echoed a similar decision made by a separate committee last month.

Conservative Councillor Liz Brennan expressed concerns about the balance between development and conservation, saying: “We have to work out the balance with this and the Green Belt. I think we need to create a better policy on this, otherwise we’re just going to keep getting these sites which will likely be on the Green Belt, and we need better guidance for developers. I think this would potentially harm the Green Belt and it’s inappropriate.”

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