Planning permission for a battery-based electrical storage scheme on green belt land near Wolverhampton has been granted on appeal.
Energy developer Balance Power has been successful in its appeal against the decision of South Staffordshire Council after an inspector found the project’s environmental benefits were enough to provide “very special circumstances.”
Leading development consultancy Pegasus Group managed the appeal and also provided landscape and highways services.
The scheme proposed the construction, management and operation of a 50-megawatt battery-based electricity storage facility comprising 28 battery units, 14 inverters and 14 transformers on open land on the South Staffordshire Railway Walk.
Pegasus Group Director, Gareth Roberts said: “This is an excellent result for our client Balance Power Projects Limited and gives an insight into the expertise our talented team brings to such schemes.
“We provided landscape and highways support as well as full appeal project management, with our Bristol office leading to achieve a successful outcome.
“The provision of low carbon energy and the National Policy Statement advising that the storage is needed to reduce the costs of electricity and increase its reliability were crucial elements of the appeal.”
Daniel Levy, Planning Lead at Balance Power, said: “We are delighted to have secured planning permission on appeal for the Railway Walk project and are hugely grateful for the outstanding expertise and dedication Pegasus Group provided to ensure we reached a successful outcome.”
The scheme was originally recommended for approval by the planning officers in December 2021, only for South Staffordshire District Council to reject the application due to its intrusion onto the green belt.
Tamsin Law, the inspector in the appeal, ruled that enough evidence had been provided for the “very special circumstances” required to rule in favour of inappropriate development to the green belt had been met.
She wrote: “National Grid Future Energy Scenarios (2021) advises that, currently, the energy storage capacity in the UK is 4GW and by 2050 it is anticipated that 40GW of capacity would be required in order to meet the UK’s target of net zero carbon by 2050.
“The policy support for renewable energy and associated development given in the framework is caveated by the need for the impacts to be acceptable, or capable of being made so.
“Nevertheless, the energy storage benefit of the proposal must be accorded substantial weight.
“Although modest in scale, the appeal scheme would make a valuable contribution to cutting greenhouse emissions by increasing the opportunity to store energy and this also attracts substantial weight.
“Therefore, and in my judgement, the environmental benefits of the proposal and the fact that the impacts can be made acceptable, are sufficient to outweigh the harm to the green belt.
“Consequently, the very special circumstances necessary to justify the proposal do exist.”
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