Agenda item

Application 21/00195/FUL - Land South of Astwood Lane Feckenham Redditch B96 6HP - Mr Michael Fletcher (Statkraft UK LTD)


Construction of a Greener Grid Park comprising energy storage and grid balancing equipment along with associated infrastructure, landscaping and access


Officers presented the report and took Members through the slides in the presentation pack.  In doing so officers set out the physical elements of the proposed battery storage facility, it’s siting and location and access arrangements.  The site’s location, adjacent to the existing Feckenham National Grid substation was part of the design, and Members were referred to the reasons why that particular location had been selected as set out at pages 22 to 24 of the agenda.


The purpose of the site would be to store electricity and to aid the flexible operation of the National Grid and the decarbonisation of electricity supply.


The development would be operated remotely with occasional inspection and maintenance visits.  Significant landscaping works were proposed including retention of existing trees, new planting and biodiversity enhancements.


The site would be operated remotely, with occasional site visits, and would produce 11 full time equivalent jobs.


Officers explained that the site was located entirely in the Green Belt and Members were referred to the analysis of Green Belt issues set out on pages 24 to 30 of the agenda.  Officers had concluded that the impact on the openness of the Green Belt would be limited given the low scale of development and proposed landscaping.  Further, that the applicant had demonstrated that Very Special Circumstances existed based upon locational need, the innovative nature of the technology to be used and the contribution the site would make to the national target of decarbonisation.


With regard to HGV routing, it was noted that the application had previously been deferred by Planning Committee for this element to be looked into in more detail.  Officers summarised the different routes available, and Members were referred to the HGV routing plan set out on page 25 of the Site Plans and Presentations Pack. 


The construction phase was expected to take 18 months, and in peak periods (months 1 to 3 and 8 to 9) there could be up to 58 two way HGV movements per day, and together with associated staff vehicle movements, this could produce a total of up to 98 two way movements per day.  Officers pointed out that this level of vehicle movements would be temporary and confined to the construction period only, reducing to a minimal level once the site was operational.


As a contractor had not been appointed yet, it was premature to be able to advise Members what specific routes would be used.  However, it was noted that routes 1,3 and 5 had been assessed by County Highways as unsuitable for HGV movements, whilst routes 2,4 and 6 had been found to be suitable.  Following consultation with the County Abnormal Loads Team, the recommended route for abnormal loads would be Route 1 with mitigating measures in place including night working and road closures.


Officers commented on some of the other elements of the application including the proposed woodland habitat planting to enhance bio-diversity and previous concerns raised about fire safety issues.  Officers re-iterated the comments made at the previous meeting that they were satisfied that fire safety had been properly addressed by the applicant, and that provision had been made for a site specific Fire Safety Statement to be submitted (Condition 21).


In conclusion, the application would enable for the provision of electrical infrastructure to support the National Grid in the West Midlands, and was supported by national policy around decarbonisation and the Borough Council’s declaration of a climate emergency.  Very Special Circumstances had been demonstrated and the impact on the Green Belt was judged to be relatively minimal.  As such the application was recommended for approval.


At the invitation of the Chair the following speakers addressed the Committee under the Council’s Public Speaking Rules: -


·       Councillor Craig Warhurst – Ward Member for Astwood Bank and Feckenham

·       Ms Naomi Heikalo – agent for the Applicant


In debating the application Members referred to a number of issues including:-


·       Concerns about the suitability of some of the routes for HGV movements due to congestion and road safety.

·       The extent to which the developer should be permitted to choose the routes that are used (based on the ones which had been found acceptable by County Highways) as opposed to choice of route being controlled by a condition.

·       The fact that traffic disruption would be temporary for the duration of the build phase.

·       The longer term community and environmental gains from the scheme going ahead in terms of the infrastructure that would be created and the benefits to the supply of electricity and de-carbonisation.


In response to the points raised by Members the County Highways officer gave further information on the assessment and suitability of the 6 routes as shown on the HGV routing plan and re-iterated that the added vehicle movements would be temporary in nature.  It was noted that the choice of route would normally be left to the contractor (once appointed) and there was a mechanism for the LPA to influence arrangements through the Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) as set out in condition 13.




Having regard to the development plan and to all other material considerations, planning permission be GRANTED subject to the conditions set out on pages 42 to 47 of the agenda.

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