Agenda item

PL/2022/05412: Land off Dog Trap Lane, Minety

Proposed Development is for a battery storage facility and ancillary infrastructure (Revision of PL/2022/00404)


Public Participation


·       Mr Ian Anderson spoke in objection to the application.

·       Mr Martin Pollard spoke in support of the application.


The Development Management Team Leader, Adrian Walker, introduced a report which recommended that the application for a battery storage facility and ancillary infrastructure be approved. It was noted that the application was a revision of PL/2022/00404. Key details were stated to include the principle of development, as well as its impact upon agricultural land, heritage assets, the landscape and residential amenity. 


Attention was drawn to a late representation regarding potential archaeological finds. The Development Management Team Leader confirmed that this representation would not change his recommendation and that Wiltshire Council’s archaeologist was satisfied that sufficient information had been provided.


The Development Management Team Leader noted that the proposed development would introduce an uncharacteristic industrial form of development to the site. However, he explained that the planning balance was in favour of the development, as it would bring clear public benefits by improving energy security, through storing excess energy, and saving carbon emissions. The proposed development was in a suitable location, not being in a protected landscape or on the best agricultural land. It would benefit from access to a National Grid point of connection as well as the highway network. The Development Management Team Leader highlighted that the site was bounded by woodland to the north and east as well as an area of scrubland to the south. Acoustic fences and additional planting would be also installed to further screen the development and enhance biodiversity. Given the exiting woodland and mitigation measures to be put in place, he felt that there would be no unacceptable noise or visual impacts. Changes to the landscape character would be localised.


Members of the Committee then had the opportunity to ask technical questions of the Development Management Team Leader.


A large number of questions were asked about the environmental impact of the proposed development.


It was noted that in 2019 Wiltshire Council had resolved to seek to make the county of Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030 and had committed to become carbon neutral as an organisation by 2030. Details were sought about the weight that should be given to these goals in the Committee’s decision making when they sat alongside the Council’s planning policies, adopted in 2015, and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).


In response, the Development Management Team Leader explained that Core Policy 42 (Standalone Renewable Energy Installations) supported the principle of development. However, he explained that as the 2030 pledges were a policy of the Council, they did influence the weight that was given to certain planning policies. Wiltshire Council’s Climate Strategy 2022-27 set out a clear commitment to increase the uptake of renewable electricity generation and storage. These goals also aligned with the government’s commitment to enable energy to be used more flexibly and advice in the NPPF that Local Planning Authorities should help to increase the use and supply of renewable and low carbon energy.


The Development Management Team Leader confirmed that the Jubilee Woodland, planned to be planted as part of the scheme, would be in addition to the mitigation measures proposed by Wiltshire Council’s landscape officer. The woodland was due to be funded by Mintey Parish Council on the applicant’s land. For these reasons, it would not be possible for the Committee to condition that the wood was planted.


Several questions were asked about the cumulative impact of existing and proposed renewable energy projects, including battery energy storage facilities, in the local area. Given that Wiltshire Council’s landscape officer had identified that there would be a slight adverse impact, the Committee were keen to gain further insight into the demand for these projects both locally and nationally. The following points of clarification were provided by the Development Management Team Leader:


·       A screening opinion was submitted to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to consider whether the cumulative impact of the recent renewable energy applications would trigger the need for an environmental impact assessment.

·       The Secretary of State had concluded that given the lack of intervisibility to other sites, and relatively small and heavily screened nature of the proposal, an environmental impact assessment was not required.

·       Each application in the area should be judged on its own merits; however, the Committee could consider the cumulative impacts.

·       He did not have statistics about the contribution that renewable energy and battery storage schemes in Wiltshire would have towards national or local environmental targets.

·       The applicant was not required to prove the demand for renewable energy battery storage, so that could not be a reason for refusal. Information from the National Grid showed that there was clear demand to increase capacity.

·       The UK Net Zero Strategy projected that there would be a 40 to 60 percent increase in demand for electricity by 2035.

·       The purpose of the proposed development was to store power from the National Grid at times of excess supply. It would feed this power back into the grid at times of high demand or reduced generation capacity.

·       It would be difficult to confirm whether the proposed development would be recommended for approval if the Council’s and government’s carbon goals were not in place. However, Core Policy 42 did support the principle of development.


Some members of the Committee stated that they would welcome an audit of the lifetime carbon-costs and projected savings of the proposed development to establish how much weight to put on this factor in the planning balance.


Details were sought on why batteries were stored in shipping containers and why solar panels had not been incorporated into the design of the battery storage facility. The Development Management Team Leader explained that the aesthetics of the project were dictated by it being a temporary storge facility, with a maximum operation of 40 years. It was clarified that battery storage facilities could be incorporated into solar farms, as well as being located further away. However, he was unable to confirm why the proposed development did not contain solar panels.


Members of the public then had the opportunity to present their views to the committee as detailed above.


The Unitary Division Member, the Chairman, then spoke about the application. He recognised the usefulness of battery storage but questioned the cumulative impact of a large number of local projects. He reported objections raised by the local community and raised concerns about the location of the proposed development given the elevated position of Dog Trap Lane in relation to the site.


The Development Management Team Leader then had the opportunity to comment on the points raised by the public and Unitary Division Member.


So that the Committee had something to debate, Cllr Elizabeth Threlfall, seconded by Cllr Clare Cape, proposed that the development be granted for the reasons outlined in the report.


A debate followed where the cumulative impact of large scale proposed renewable energy projects on the area, such as Lime Down Solar Park, were discussed. Other issues raised included the screening of the proposed development, its contribution to Net Zero targets and loss of greenfield land.


Following a vote, the motion was lost. A motion to defer the application, pending further information about the carbon emissions that would be saved and caused by the proposed development over its lifetime, was moved by Cllr Steve Bucknell and seconded by Cllr Gavin Grant.


At the conclusion of the debate, it was:




To DEFER the application for the battery storage facility and ancillary infrastructure.




So that the Committee could receive an audit showing the projected carbon savings over the lifetime of the project (not just in Wiltshire but overall) compared to the carbon costs, including the construction of the concrete bases, containers and batteries, as well as the running and disposal costs.

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