Planning Application No. SL/2018/0388 (Minute No. P/48 refers).
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).
The Solicitor to the Council addressed all present and provided an explanation for the adjournment.
The Planning Officer referred to the late representations which had been circulated prior to the meeting and an additional late representation, a letter of objection from the Head Teacher of Old Hutton School, which had been received that morning.
In further presenting the report the Planning Officer informed the Members that the key issues and material planning considerations included the principle of the development, landscape and visual impacts, residential amenity, noise and pollution impacts, access roads and flood risk and drainage. He referred to the Government target to transition from fossil fuel based economy to a low carbon economy and that the reliance on renewables had to be balanced with the need for supply. He went on to explain that the energy environment was changing and that, as part of the transition from the current mix of energy uses and sources to a full low carbon economy, there would still be a role for fossil fuels in the mix particularly for meeting peak demand. He explained that that there was a need for peaking generators to respond quickly and although gas powered peaking generator plants were not considered to be low carbon, they had the advantage that they reached maximum operating efficiency within five minutes of starting up. The National Grid viewed these plants as an essential part of the generating mix and if there was exceptional demand, back up capacity must be available.
The Planning Officer highlighted the visual impact of the development and explained that it was considered that the impact on long distance views would sit alongside the existing substation, the medium distance views would be broken up by the topography and that the impact on close distance views would be more visible. However, the proposed landscaping and the site being cut into the sloping landforms would mitigate the impact.
The Planning Officer informed the Members that the noise impact on properties in the locality had been assessed by South Lakeland District Council Public Protection Officers and no objection to the proposals had been raised. The Public Protection Officers had been satisfied that, if the plant was operated in accordance with the mitigation measures set out in the noise assessment, there was no technical reason to object. In addition the noise impact during the construction phase could be satisfactorily covered by the Construction Management Plan. The Planning Officer advised Members that the Public Protection Officer had confirmed that the emissions from the plant would be in line with relevant air quality standards and modelling, which had been used to predict the impacts of the emissions and the Environment Agency had raised no comments or concerns.
The Planning Officer stated that once the plant was operational it would be unmanned. The main access impact would be during the construction phase, and Cumbria County Council, as Highway Authority, had raised no objection to the development being served by the public road. He explained that the largest abnormal vehicle would be a multi axle Liebherr Crane and the Highway Authority had raised no objection in regard of the tracking plan, in addition this aspect had been fully conditioned.
The Planning Officer explained that the site was entirely within Flood Zone 1 with the existing run-off draining into Peasey Beck. The Drainage Scheme included the use of permeable surfaces and a retention storage tank. Cumbria County Council had not objected to the proposed drainage strategy. He went on to advise Members that the Construction Management Plan would ensure that surface water from the site would not get into the local drainage network and pollution and contaminants during and post construction would be dealt with as part of the Construction Management Plan.
The Planning Officer concluded by stating that the proposed development would meet the aims of the National Policy Statement EN–1 in providing electricity during peak demands and increasing the reliability of supply. The design was functional and the long and medium distance views would be largely screened by existing and proposed planting. There was no significant impact in terms of visual amenity, noise or air quality and the application was acceptable in terms of highway safety. The application complied with National Policy and was recommended for approval, subject to the conditions as set out in the report and the additional conditions as outlined in the late representations.
The Planning Officer, the Interim Development Management Team Leader and Solicitor to the Council responded to questions from Members in regard to an emergency services action plan, air quality assessment national guidelines ADMS 5 modelling, the siting of the development on a greenfield site, flooding and drainage concerns, highways access and the impact on the highways infrastructure, the requirement for sequential testing and ongoing air quality assessment.
Note – Members requested to read the late representation letter from the Head Teacher of Old Hutton School. The letter was distributed and the Members were given sufficient time to consider its contents.
Members gave consideration to the public presentations and the late representation presented by the Planning Officer. Members discussed the rural location and the visual impact of the proposed development and the need for rapid delivery of back-up power during periods of peak demand. They considered the vehicular access and traffic management proposal, the impact on the landscape, environment and air quality, the flood risk and the impact on the local residents and the primary school. They considered the advice given to them by the Solicitor to the Council and acknowledged that there had been no technical objections from statutory consultees.
A motion to approve the application was put to the vote and, an equality of votes being received, the Chair used his casting vote. The motion was lost.
It was subsequently moved that the application be refused on the grounds of landscape encroachment and the adverse impact of air pollution and traffic. After receiving advice from Officers it was
RESOLVED – That the application be refused for the following reasons:-
The development of this green field site for a gas fired power station and associated
development would introduce very substantial development of a predominantly urban character into the open countryside. By virtue of its scale, design and appearance, the proposals would appear incongruous and intrusive to the detriment of the rural setting of the locality and which would have a detrimental impact upon the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside. The proposal would thereby be contrary to Policies CS8.2 of the adopted South Lakeland Core Strategy and DM1 of the South Lakeland Local Plan Development Management Policies (Publication Document - November 2017) and the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework.