Decision status: Recommendations approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Gas Fired Electricity Generating Station to deliver electricity during times of peak demand of up to 49.99 MW, ancillary equipment, access and landscaping (Miss Kirsty Cassie, Statera Energy Ltd).
Note – at this point in the proceedings Councillors Anne Hutton and Rupert Audland left the meeting.
Note – Councillor Janette Jenkinson declared a non-pecuniary interest in this item by virtue of the fact she knew Chris Nelson, one of the public participants, through her work on Ulverston BID. She remained in the meeting during discussion and voting on the item.
The Planning Officer presented Planning Application No. SL/2018/0388 which sought permission for the development of a 49.9 MW gas fired electricity generating station. The Planning Officer advised Members that a previous scheme for a gas fired electricity peaking plant and battery storage facility had been refused by the Planning Committee on 4 January 2018 (Minute P/123 refers). The Planning Officer informed Members that the Planning Application before them was a revised scheme which deleted the battery storage element. He displayed photographs and plans which detailed the proposals.
Note – The Committee voted to adjourn for a break at 10.54 a.m. and reconvened at 11.07 a.m. when the same Members were present.
Tim Farron, Member of Parliament for Westmorland and Lonsdale addressed the Committee. He stated that he was deeply concerned regarding the risks associated with the development and that he felt Statera had tried to appease local residents by proposing a 20% reduction in the height of the chimneys which would moderately reduce the visual impact. In addition the reduction of the chimney height, from 15 metres to 12 metres, would have an impact on the dispersal of fumes and there would be a radical increase in the threat to public health. The dispersal mode readings presented in the report had been carried out at Shap which was much windier than Old Hutton. He concluded by highlighting his concerns regarding the proximity of the local school to the application site and that there had been no evidence of essential requirement for the development in the open countryside. He urged the Committee to say no to this dangerous proposal.
Anthony Fitzherbert addressed the Committee and stated that this was the second application by Statera to construct a power station in Old Hutton, only 800 metres from the local primary school. The application had been rejected in January 2018 because it was an inappropriate development in a rural area and because of its visual impact. Those issues had not changed. He went on to state that to build a power station on the site was contrary to the principles for industrial development in South Lakeland and that nitrous oxide fumes would be emitted, which would pollute the atmosphere and cause acid rain. He concluded his address by highlighting the risks related to fire and security and the negative impact on future of the community.
Councillor Pat Bell, Kendal Rural District Ward Member, addressed the Committee. She referred to Core Strategy CS1.2 and asked for the Committee to consider if it was totally convinced that the application was essential in this location. Councillor Bell went on to state that the Highways Authority had described the access as ‘very tight indeed’ and that the residents of Eskrigg End could be massively inconvenienced for the duration of the construction period. She concluded by highlighting the potential repercussions for subsequent decisions relating to developments in the open countryside if the application were to be approved and she urged the Members to reject the application.
Dr Arthur Robinson addressed the Committee. He informed the Members that the application had been supported by a sequential test which had assessed 505 substations. However, no criteria had been provided as to how the 505 substations had been selected and he suspected that it was the willingness of the landowners to agree to development. He concluded by stating that the sequential test had failed to show why it was essential that the proposed substation should be sited in a rural location. Therefore the application failed to comply with policy CS1.2 and approval of the application could not be justified.
Alan Jenkins addressed the Committee and informed Members that, in South Lakeland District Council’s Core Strategy, the parishes of Old Hutton and New Hutton were recognised as rural. He made reference to the visual impact of cumulative industrial development in the area which included two quarries, the national grid substation and a solar farm and hydro scheme. In addition, he referred to the previous refusal, by the Planning Committee, of several visually obtrusive wind turbines. He stated that this application would have a harmful visual impact and that although the chimneys would be lower than the previous application, they would still be visible from most directions and the planting of trees and shrubs would offer little cover. He concluded by stating that the cumulative impact would be both extensive and profound and would affect generations. He urged the Members to decline the application.
Victoria Middlebrook addressed the Committee and informed the Members that Statera had claimed that it was unlikely that a visible exhaust plume would be created by the substation when it was in operation. Throughout her representation Ms Middlebrook cast doubt on a number of claims which had been made by the applicant and she concluded by stating that, not only would there be a significant industrial impact on the rural landscape, the formation of plumes would also represent significant visual impacts.
Jo Wilmott addressed the Committee and displayed photographs which illustrated the visual impact of the proposed application. She highlighted the open countryside and the drumlins which offered an attractive space to live and work in and for recreation. She dismissed the applicant’s exhaust dispersal modelling and stated that it had been carried out at Shap which had significantly different wind speeds. She highlighted concerns regarding exhaust emissions effecting the local primary school and the impact of the substation firing up multiple times a day. She concluded by asking the Members to evaluate the application on real evidence and to refuse it.
Jayne Nelson addressed the Committee and stated that the National Planning Policy Framework imposed a duty on local planning authorities to ensure that, with new developments, flood risk was not increased elsewhere. She highlighted her concern regarding the weather data provided by the applicant and queried why Shap weather station had been used and not the local weather station at Levens. She referred to major flooding incidents in Middleshaw in 2013 and 2015 and stated that the installation of the substation would cause a huge impermeable area which would create the risk of increased water runoff and flooding downstream. In addition, the underground tank, which would temporarily store storm water, would fill more quickly because the development would steepen the field. She concluded by stating that Statera had not fulfilled their National Planning Policy Framework duty to avoid flood risk to people and property elsewhere and their application had dismissed the flooding risk of Middleshaw.
John Shorrock, a resident of Middleshaw, addressed the Committee and explained that he and other residents had noticed a greater volume of water in the beck next to their properties during the enlargement of the existing substation. He went on to explain that, as a consequence of a partial collapse of a road culvert by Middleshaw Head Barn, water was currently being held back which was beneficial to the Hamlet. He went on to state that the proposal to use Middleshaw Lane as the access route for all traffic would mean that the culvert would need to be repaired which would lead to faster and greater waterflow which would put Middleshaw properties at further risk of flooding. Mr Shorrock explained that, in heavy rain, the proposed site floods, and this had not been addressed within Statera’s application. He concluded by emphasising the poor quality of life and worry which would be caused to Middleshaw residents every time there was heavy rain and he urged the Committee to refuse the Planning Application.
Anne Winders addressed the Committee, on behalf of Middleshaw Flood Action Group, and displayed photographs which showed water surges, flooding in the area and an illustration of the proposed power station. She highlighted the significant impact there would be on residents during the six month construction phase and the increased flood risk caused by the proposed power station’s surface water drainage. Residents feared that flash flooding could overwhelm the proposed mitigation system and the proposal to deepen and increase the downhill roadside ditch would only increase the flow downstream. She highlighted concerns regarding construction traffic and referred to a report by Burgess Roughton Structural Engineers which stated that heavy traffic would damage basement walls of properties which support Middleshaw Lane. Further concerns related to the possibility, if permission were granted, of a further application for battery storage. She concluded by stating that the application would bring greater risks to residents and an irreversible lasting legacy and she urged Members to stand up for the residents of Middleshaw.
Jamie Normington addressed the Committee and informed them that he was a resident of Old Hutton and worked for Cumbria Wildlife Trust. He stated that the proposed site contained valuable hedgerows which would be disconnected and desecrated by the application. The hedgerows were havens for butterflies, bird and hedgehogs and supported breeding populations of rare birds such as the tree sparrow, which was a priority species for Cumbria. He went on to explain that the waterways were also home to some of the rarest wildlife in the UK, and there had been sightings of eels, otters, crayfish and water voles. He stated that the site had received a minimum survey in which the surveyor noted a number of reservations and potential future problems but these were outside the constraints of the token survey. He concluded by urging the Members to consider the wildlife, alongside the other objections, and to reject the plan.
Ann Hinchcliffe addressed the Committee, on behalf of Old Hutton Action Group. She explained she had lived alongside the beck in Middleshaw for 26 years and was delighted to have such a variety of wildlife including dippers, grey wagtails and endangered species such as eels and water voles. She highlighted concerns regarding the damage to the healthy ecosystem of the beck which would be caused by industrialisation in the upper watercourse of the beck and could include construction site sludge, run-off from the finished site such as lubricants and cleaning fluids and exhaust fumes which would spread over the fields which formed the catchment area of the beck. She concluded by quoting from the Wildlife and Countryside Act guidance and asked the Members not to give consent to the application.
Councillor Hazel Hodgson, a Kendal Rural District Ward Member, addressed the Committee. She raised the question if there was a need to site the power station in Old Hutton and went on to inform the Members that, of the gas that would be used to produce electricity, only 44% would be used in the production and the remainder would add to global warming as pollutants. Councillor Hodgson highlighted concerns regarding the accessibility of the proposed site to fire and safety services and the addition of a manifold to the national gas network which would add a weakness. She went on to highlight the impact on the community from previous green energy constructions such as the two windfarms, the large solar farm and hydro schemes and that, for the next five years, Old and New Hutton would have the impact of the Haweswater Aqueduct renovation project. Councillor Hodgson concluded by stating that, in New Hutton, holiday lodges and touring parks, which contributed 60 occupations per week to the local economy, looked directly at the proposed site; Bendrigg Lodge, which provided clean air activities for disabled children, was 1500 metres to the east; and Old Hutton School was just 800 metres away.
Ann Airey addressed the Committee and informed them that she owned a farm and land to the west running 250 metres alongside the proposed site. She explained that she farmed approximately 100 acres, which was split into two sections, on one end was the existing substation and on the other end the M6 motorway and the junction between was her farm and buildings. She stated that, during previous construction work her cattle had been frightened from her field and that on the evening of 3 August 2015 there had been a massive explosion which had shaken her farm three-quarters of a mile away. The proposed substation was too big and unsafe and there would be no personnel on site to look after safety. She concluded by stating that there would be an impact on wildlife in the area and that the local roads were unfit for heavy goods vehicles.
Stephen Hinchliffe addressed the Committee on behalf of Friends of Eden, Lakeland and Lunesdale Scenery (FELLS). He informed the Committee that FELLS had been founded in 1999 to assess planning applications and to oppose those that it considered inappropriately sited. He stated the FELLS objected to the proposal on the grounds of landscape and visual impact on the locality and the drumlin fields in South Lakeland and the high ground between Kendal and Kirkby Lonsdale known as Kendal Low Fells. He stated that South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) and County Council policy documents had described the landscape as intimate and small scale and vulnerable to inappropriate development. Several wind turbine applications in the area had been refused by SLDC and the Planning Inspectorate. The proposal had acknowledged the landscape character and had suggested there were advantages in ‘grouping’ however, it was felt that adding more industrial structures up the valley side would be a step too far. He concluded by stating that FELLS considered that the drumlin landscape deserved continued protection and was not an appropriate location for a power station.
Lorayne Wall addressed the Committee on behalf of Friends of the Lake District. She informed the Members that the proposal remained contrary to the Local Development Plan and she referred to the application avoiding the NSIPs (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects) consents process, due to it being 0.1MW below the threshold. She stated that the development was inappropriate in open countryside, between two National Parks and it would have unacceptable landscape character and cumulative visual impacts. She went on to make reference to SLDC’s Local Plan core strategy policies CS8.2, CS1.1, CS7.7, CS1.2 and CS10.2 and emerging policies DM1, DM2 and DM21. She concluded by stating that, if the Council Plan ambitions were to be met industrialisation and urbanisation of valued open countryside should not be permitted and that the original reasons for refusal remained relevant to this proposal and it should be refused.
Nick Liley addressed the Committee and explained that he was the principal of the charity Bendrigg Lodge which offered life changing experiences to a range of people, often with severe and complex disabilities and medical needs. He outlined the outdoor activities which were available at the centre and stated that it was the location and surrounding area which attracted groups to Bendrigg Lodge. He highlighted his concerns which included the visual impact and the impact on the local infrastructure, particularly during the construction phase, the implications on the day to day operations of Bendrigg Lodge and having to navigate past articulated lorries on narrow lanes. He also highlighted the medical needs of many of the Lodge’s visitors and the requirement for access for rapid response emergency service vehicles. He concluded by stating his concerns regarding the environmental impact, specifically pollution, due to the close proximity of the site to Bendrigg Lodge, the village and the primary school and that it was vital that the local area was protected.
Michael McGlynn addressed the Committee and explained he was speaking as one of the many young people from Old Hutton. He described Old Hutton as a place where the younger generation stayed and wanted to be part of the community and bring up their own families in the future. He stated that the power station would be a huge mistake and would have a damaging effect on the area’s environment, farms and families. He anticipated that the younger generation would have to think carefully about whether the risk to health was worth it and many young families would move away. He concluded by stating that he had been apprehensive about addressing the Committee but he felt it was too important an issue for him to stay quiet.
Peter Aylward addressed the Committee and explained that, in autumn 2017, following sight of the ‘stop Old Hutton Power Station’ banner, he and his wife had dismissed plans to move to Old Hutton. However, following the refusal of the application in January 2018, he had purchased a cottage and moved to Old Hutton in April 2018. He stated that it had not just been the rejection of the planning application which had renewed his confidence to move to Old Hutton but the Council’s planning polices for managing development in the South Lakeland area, in particular the fact that an applicant had to demonstrate a requirement for a development to be located in a rural area. He concluded by stating that the planning application being considered today did nothing to counter the Committee’s reasons for their rejection of the previous application and he asked the Committee to honour the core strategy policy and reject the application.
Helen Loney addressed the Committee and explained that she was a parent governor of Old Hutton primary school. She highlighted that OFSTED had rated the school as outstanding and that as a National-Support School it had been a role model to other schools in Cumbria and beyond. Parents were attracted to the school because of its countryside location, family atmosphere and strong teaching record and the school ran at full capacity, with a thriving pre-school. She stated that a gas fired power station constructed within 800 metres of this outstanding school would be devastating and the emission of noxious fumes from four 12 metre high exhaust towers would result in parents moving their children to other schools, as no parent would send their child to a school close to a power station which produced nitrogen dioxide. The development would kill the school and the pre-school and consequently kill the village. She went on to say that the children were happy, they cared about each other, the environment and countryside, without the school the village would lose its ‘beating heart’. She concluded by informing the Members that there was a moral duty to protect and conserve a thriving school.
Note – The Committee voted to adjourn for a break at 12.12 p.m. and reconvened at 12.25 p.m. when the same Members were present.
Suzanne Gray addressed the Committee and explained that Old Hutton pre-school and toddler group was run from the village hall and provided friendship and support from birth to five years. Some families were local and others travelled from Kendal, Sedbergh, Kirkby Lonsdale and beyond, and they were attracted by the close links with the primary school and the fabulous outdoor provision. She informed Members that the grounds of the village hall were situated 800 metres from the site and downwind of the proposed chimneys which would pump out nitrogen dioxide and other pollutants. She highlighted concerns as to where the emissions would go when the area was covered by low cloud and she referred to the applicant’s site at Creyke Beck, Hull, where the plant’s active hours were 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m., which was exactly the time when the pre-school would be playing outdoors. She highlighted the applicant’s claim of the special circumstances of the site and the essential need for the development. She stated that there would be no benefit to the local area and there was additional concern regarding the connection to the high pressure gas line. She concluded by informing the Members that prospective parents, who shared unanswered concerns, would choose to send their children elsewhere and that a rapid decline would affect the primary school and the people of Old Hutton had worked hard to make Old Hutton stand out as a centre for education rather than generation. She urged the Committee to protect the landscape and the air that their children breathed.
Jean Robinson addressed the Committee and began her address by quoting from page 13 of the 2018 edition of the National Planning Policy Framework “Good quality application discussion enables better coordination between public and private resources” and that whilst Planning Authorities “cannot require that a developer engages with (other parties) before submitting a planning application” the National Planning Policy Framework clearly indicates that this is desirable. She went on to explain that the current application was not the same as that which was refused in January and that there had been no consultation with the public before the present application had been submitted. However, the company had claimed, in their Design and Access Statement, that, in addition to consultation which had been held for the original application, two consultations had taken place for the current application. In fact, these had taken place in June 2017 and had been in relation to the original application. She concluded by stating that this misleading approach raised the question of whether other parts of the application were less accurate than they seemed to be.
Kate Waddington addressed the Committee and stated that of the speakers present today and the 600 plus written representations submitted, not all highlighted material planning considerations and she requested that, as elected representatives, the Members be their voice and find a way to refuse the application. She informed the Members that Statera’s independent consultee, RPS, who had produced many of the documents for the application, was far from an independent consultee, as Andrew Troup from Statera had been a director of RPS for 18 years. In addition there had been no public consultation for this application. She stated that Statera had no significant experience of this type of operation, having only commissioned one peaking plant. She highlighted concerns regarding the Air Quality Report referring to as Site A and whether or not this indicated an intention, on the part of the applicant, to build further sites and turn the area into a brownfield site.
Parish Councillor John Heap addressed the Committee on behalf of Old Hutton and Homescales Parish Council. He commenced his address by informing the Members that he lived at Eskrigg End, a small hamlet of nine properties, 300 metres away from the proposed development. He referred to the public meeting, which had been held when the original application had been submitted, and highlighted the concerns which had been raised by 97 parishioners at that meeting. He stated that serious concerns had been raised regarding security, particularly as the site was to be unmanned and monitored by CCTV, and access for emergency vehicles. He went on to explain that each concern had been subject to healthy debate and every parishioner present at the meeting had objected to the application. He then explained that all parishioners were aware of the revised plan and, of those he had spoken to, all were still of the view that the proposed development was undesirable and unnecessary. The Parish Council had resolved to continue to strongly oppose the application. He informed the Members that there were also serious concerns in respect of the visual impact of the site and the proposed landscaping. He concluded by urging the Planning Committee to refuse the application.
Parish Councillor Martyn Welch addressed the Committee on behalf of New Hutton Parish Council. He explained that the proposed development was not in New Hutton but the people of New Hutton were concerned about the long-term effect that the development would have over a very wide area for a very long time. He highlighted concerns regarding flooding, access and pollution and stated that the site would not bring any local jobs or help with housing needs. In addition there were concerns regarding visual impact and wildlife. He concluded by stating that it was an inappropriate development in a rural setting which would have a devastating impact on the rural landscape.
Mike Adams addressed the Committee and informed Members that Statera’s justification for the power station had been based on national demand for electricity. However, demand was falling and projected to fall further. He went on to quote National Grid figures for winter 2018/19 and explained that the trend was for further reductions in demand. He said that Statera’s claim that Kendal was a load centre was a gross overstatement and that their claim that there were no other suitable sites should be seriously questioned. He concluded by stating if peaking power stations were needed, that they should be close to major demand centres and not Old Hutton.
David Stephenson addressed the Committee and explained that he was an oil and gas professional of 31 years’ experience. He stated that the application followed the rejection of the previous plan and that the applicant continued to gloss over major risk factors. He explained that Statera planned to draw gas directly from a high pressure main which was a high risk undertaking and would involve the installation of a manifold system. He further stated that the failure of pipelines was not uncommon and the proposed manifold on an unmanned site in a farmer’s field would increase the vulnerability to damage. He went on to quote statistics relating to failures of high pressure lines and stated that the applicant had not addressed the risks. He concluded by informing the Members that the fire and rescue service had declared that the road access was severely restricted and he urged the Planning Committee to reject the application.
Alison McGlynn addressed the Committee and informed the Members that South Lakeland District Council’s Core Strategy listed several economic policies, none of which were satisfied by the planning application. She quoted from policies CS1.1 and CS7.4 and went on to explain that the proposed power station was distant from existing service centres and offered no employment opportunities as it would be controlled and monitored remotely. In the construction phase there would be little benefit to local companies because specialist labour would be brought in from elsewhere. She concluded by stating that the development would be alien to the surrounding area, would harm the amenity of the residential area, during construction there would be a high level of heavy traffic on unsuitable roads and that all these harmful impacts would negatively affect the tourist economy of the local area.
John Hurren addressed the Committee and informed the Members that NOx was the generic term for nitrogen oxides which were the principal components of air pollution and which would significantly impact the future health of everyone in the area. He stated that Statera’s model calculations were misleading; the weather data had been taken from Shap where, due to higher wind speed, pollution would disperse more quickly. The peaking plant would be used more in autumn and winter and dispersal of pollutants would be affected by temperature inversions which formed over fog and cold air in the valleys. The height of the chimneys had been reduced from 15 metres to 12 metres but the same volume of pollutants would be emitted at a slower speed from the wider chimneys. He concluded by stating that air pollution was contrary to South Lakeland District Council’s environmental and planning policies and Statera’s calculations and conclusions about air pollution were misleading.
Councillor Giles Archibald addressed the Committee and stated that climate change was by far the most serious threat faced. It would make millions of people homeless and cause worldwide water and food shortages and if the planet was to be protected, green energy must be insisted upon. Councillor Archibald informed the Members that the substation, with a lifespan of 30 years, could emit 30,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum and that nitrous oxide was particularly damaging to the environment and had three times the impact of CO2. He highlighted that there had been no mention of the carbon footprint during the construction phase and concluded his address by stating that South Lakeland District Council had just published its plans to reduce greenhouse gases and that, if the decision today was to approve the application, the plan to reduce greenhouse gases would be swamped in one decision.
Simon Gray addressed the Committee and informed the Members that the application had acknowledged that ambient noise levels would increase slightly but it was considered that the noise level increases would not yield any adverse impacts. He stated that it was likely that the noise would be much louder if the analysis had used pressure power rather than sound power. He went on to explain that the installation of a concrete enclosure was planned to reduce the engine noise, however, the stated decrease in decibels was very unlikely and the conclusion that noise would only slightly increase was based on poor modelling. The noise report had been written by RPS which had directorial links with Statera and, therefore was not an independent consultancy. He went on to inform Members that Statera had applied for permission to operate for up to 2750 hours which would mean 15 hours every day during the winter and that, therefore, the noise impact would be heard long into the night. He concluded by stating that Statera’s data grossly underestimated the intensity of the noise which would be heard at neighbouring houses.
Major Dave Nelson addressed the Committee and explained that for a quarter of a century, he had specialised in HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) operations through Europe for the invasion of Kosovo and he had commanded the British Forces Heavy Vehicle Battle Group in Afghanistan. In addition, he had been a Ministry of Defence strategic planner for outsized vehicle moves across the UK and Europe. He stated that the applicant had no transport plan and the document ‘Traffic Management during Construction’ dated 4 May was a duplicate of their proposed tracking plan for the crane, that no proper route-proving had been carried out and the true impact of traffic was far from clear. He went on to highlight the number of vehicle passes which would all cause pollution, congestion, noise and structural damage and the safety risk for cyclist, horse riders and pedestrians was considerable. He stated that Middleshaw and Greenmoor Bank Lanes had not been constructed to accommodate, and were not fit to support, the estimated volume of heavy traffic. He referred to the letter from Burgess Roughton Engineers which reported that the passage of any HGV would damage the main supporting walls of adjacent properties and the road culverts which stem flooding would also be damaged. The tracking plan provided details of dimension for clearance but it did not address the weight issues of a 65 tonne crane. None of these issues had been satisfactorily addressed by Highways. He concluded by stating that information in the transport plan was either missing or inaccurate and he asked Members to refuse this polluting industrial onslaught which had been orchestrated purely for reasons of corporate greed.
John McGlynn addressed the Committee and stated that the Planning Officer’s report was fatally flawed and did not critically assess the central planning issue. One of the reasons that the previous applications had been refused was because they were contrary to Core Strategy Policy CS1.2. He went on to explain that this application was different but the site and the main planning issues were still the same and he referred to Core Strategy Policy CS8.1 which sought to protect the countryside from inappropriate development. Statera’s sequential test stated that they had analysed 505 sites, and only seven had been viable. However, this had not been supported by evidence. Therefore the Planning Officer’s report failed because it accepted the figures as true without question. He went on to explain that the power station would generate 132KV which was for the regional grid and that there were many 132KV substations on business estates throughout the north-west. He concluded by informing the Members that the Planning Officer’s report did not prove that the Old Hutton site was exceptional nor that a rural location was essential and the recommendation for approval was not justified.
Chris Nelson addressed the Committee and stated that the Planning Officer’s report had failed to delve into the detail of the application. He advised the Members that Ofgem wanted to shut down this costly market which charged up to £1,000 per kwh and that industry insiders were now saying that up to half the peaking plants contracted may not be built. He went on to explain that every other power station in Cumbria had been on a site zoned for industrial use which had the infrastructure and road system designed to support and sustain industrial development. He went on to quote from Core Strategy Policy CS1.2 which was reinforced by CS8.1 and stated that there was no essential requirement and the Core Strategy protected the countryside from inappropriate development. He referred to Statera’s admission that the emission plumes would be visible during start-up and he stated that this could be three or four per day and could be up to eight hours every day. He informed the Members that Middleshaw Lane was signposted ‘unsuitable for heavy goods vehicles’ yet hundreds of huge construction vehicles would use the lane for six months. Statera claimed that they would mitigate flooding but, despite the evidence, they did not accept that flooding was an issue. He referred to the weather data from Shap, the blight on the lives of the people, air pollution, noise, traffic and an industrial eyesore in a green space between two National Parks. He concluded by stating that if the plan were to be approved it would set a dangerous precedent for development in rural locations and that Members simply needed to say no.
Beryl Jenkinson addressed the Committee and informed the Members that the main reasons for the refusal of the application were linked to South Lakeland District Council’s Core Strategies. She referred to CS1.2 and stated that Statera had not shown that the power station must have a rural location. The proposal failed CS7.4 as it did not increase employment or aid the rural economy, it was counter to CS1.1, CS7.7 and CS8.7 as it was not sustainable and did not support renewable energy and a low carbon economy. The power station did not satisfy CS8.1 and CS8.2 as it did not protect the countryside and landscape and in addition CS10.2 was also a concern as the nature and volume of traffic generated during construction would be detrimental to Middleshaw. She concluded by stating that there were mistakes in the Officer’s report; no environmental and rural economic benefits had been demonstrated and the emergent Development Management Policies were not applicable as they had not yet been adopted by South Lakeland District Council. She urged the Planning Committee to disregard the officer recommendation and refuse the application.
Cynthia Hurren addressed the Committee and advised Members that the capacity market had been introduced by the Government in 2014 to maintain sufficient levels of energy and security of electricity supply with companies making formal bids to supply to the National Grid. The capacity market auction in February 2018 had over 800 sites vying to provide capacity. If successful, these sites would receive payment for delivering electricity at times of system stress. The auction had been seeking capacity of 49.2GW of energy and the bidders had offered 74.2GW which was 50% more than the Government had asked for. She listed the current sites in Cumbria and Lancashire, many of which were on brownfield sites, which had applied to take part in the auction. In addition she listed the names and locations of other sites which gave an indication of the nature of the surrounding land. She concluded by stating that the sites she had named were just a few of the 408 locations across the UK where schemes were proposed. Many were situated in close proximity to major roads in industrialised areas. Old Hutton was not a critically needed site.
Dr Henry Adams addressed the Committee on behalf of South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) and displayed a chart during his presentation. He explained that he would be focusing on the climate change aspects especially the carbon emissions of the proposal. SLACC was objecting to the gas reciprocating engines because research showed that they were a very high carbon option for balancing the grid at times of peak demand and demand could be better fulfilled by batteries. He drew Members’ attention to the projected chart which showed the carbon intensities in grams CO2 equivalents emitted per KW hour of electricity generated by a variety of generator types. He went on to explain that gas reciprocating engines had a carbon intensity of around 60% of coal power stations, five times higher than the 2030 target, and had over double the carbon intensity of our grid in 2017 and, in magnitude, around 100 times the carbon intensity of wind and solar. Gas peaking plants were a high carbon option an incompatible with the UK’s need for grid carbon intensity to be zero by 2050. In contrast the battery alternative generated no carbon emissions when in use. He referred to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and although the UK had signed up to the Agreement it had yet to update its policies to comply with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, which were to keep the increase in global average temperatures well below 2 degrees centigrade. He stated that the climate risks of adding more fossil gas infrastructure would compromise the lives of future generations. He concluded by stating that he strongly recommended that Councillors vote against Statera’s proposal as it did not comply with the Paris Agreement temperature goals statement and there were better options without high carbon emissions.
Lesley Williams addressed the Committee and explained she was speaking on behalf of Cumbria County Councillor Stan Collins, who represented Old Hutton within the Kent division. Councillor Collins, who was unable to attend the meeting, was against the application. His representation explained that he was the Chair of Cumbria County Council’s Highways and Transportation working group for the South Lakeland area. He was certain that the local roads were unsuited to heavy and intensive traffic and he had considerable experience of the damage that heavy vehicles caused to infrastructure of roads and underlying drainage, culverts and bridges. His address highlighted that the County was not sufficiently staffed to look seriously at the impact of developments on its infrastructure and consequently it was landed with costs or liabilities it could ill afford. He stated that Cumbria County Council’s Development Department had not engaged fully with the issues raised by the development and the local highways team were not consulted. Members of the local team had doubts regarding the suitability of roads. In addition his address stated that fire officers were concerned about the access and distance to the site with fire tenders and there had been no reassurance regarding the availability of an adequate water supply in the event of a major incident and he had been advised that it would fall to South Lakeland District Council to enforce appropriate safety requirements.
Carl Crompton addressed the Committee and spoke in support of the application. He explained that he was a director at Gilkes, which was a major local employer of 200 people. Gilkes manufactured hydro turbines, however, two years ago it had been identified that the subsidies for hydro energy had seen a downturn and it was vital for Gilkes to diversify. The decision had been made to move into the flexible generator industry. He explained that following the refusal of the application in January 2018, he had contacted the applicant to offer Gilkes’ skills and expertise in project management. He stated that the claims that the application would not bring benefits to the local economy were not true. Gilkes had agreed a contract, if the application was approved, which would enable Gilkes to diversify into a new long term business. He concluded by asking the Committee to support the application as it would directly support local jobs and would encourage investment in local businesses and help Gilkes to diversify and grow the business.
Matthew Hard of Indigo Planning addressed the Committee on behalf of the applicant. He explained that he had first become aware of the application when it had been refused in January 2018. Statera had amended their proposal and instructed Indigo Planning to review the revised application and liaise with the planning department. Mr Hard highlighted the importance of a low carbon economy and stated that the NPPF encouraged low carbon energy and there was a need to counter green energy intermittency. The application adopted cutting edge technology which would replace more expensive diesel generators and ensure the grid would be more resilient and the rapid response engines would result in carbon savings. The requirement for a connection to high pressure gas and electricity networks meant that there were very few locations where a peaking plant substation could be located. He concluded by stating that the Planning Officer had left no stone unturned; the scheme was governed by an environmental permit; there had been no objections raised by statutory consultees and there was an essential requirement for greener energy.
Note – The Committee voted to adjourn for a break at 1.31 p.m. and reconvened at 14.17 p.m. when the same Members were present.
Note – following a proposal from Councillor Lancaster, Members voted to move into Part II to obtain legal advice from the Solicitor to the Council.
Publication date: 27/11/2018
Date of decision: 02/11/2018
Decided at meeting: 02/11/2018 - Planning Committee