Decision next week for plans to turn Green Belt Penwortham field into massive battery pack

A farmers field in Penwortham looks set to be turned into a huge battery storage facility with enough electricity to power the whole of Preston.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 12:30 pm

Penwortham Storage Ltd want to build banks of lithium-ion batteries housed in 13 single-storey steel cabins on land at Howick Hall Farm, Howick Cross Lane, Penwortham.

The cabins-with air conditioning units on the top - would be located throughout the western part of the 3.6 acre site, and there would also be 26 blocks containing transformers and other electrical gear, a 132kv substation on the south-eastern side, and 2.5m high steel mesh fences around the whole site.

The site would act as a National Grid top-up plant - one of the biggest in the UK - storing up to 49.99 megawatts (MW) of power. The idea is that it would help manage imbalances in the systems during periods of high and low demand.

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Fields in Penwortham where the top-up plant could be built

The applicants say it would also offer a local advantage by preventing blackouts, with batteries being able to achieve the required 100 per cent power output in one second or less.

The plans - to be decided by South Ribble Council on Thursday, July 8 - replicate proposals made in 2017 which were passed, but allowed to expire.

The site is to the north of the Penwortham Substation on Howick Cross Lane, in an area designated as Green Belt.

No objections have been made and South Ribble planning offier Debbie Roberts has recommended that the plans are approved.

In a report to the committee, Mrs Roberts said: "Whilst it is acknowledged that there would be substantial harm to the Green Belt by way of inappropriate development and harm through loss of openness, it is considered on balance that the very special circumstances required of Green belt policy have been demonstrated, and that any harm seen on this fairly concealed tract of land are far outweighed by the social, economic and environmental benefits of the proposal.

"Existing mature planting already screens, and subsequently reduces openness to the proposal site; little would change post-development particularly as screening is to be increased.

"On balance and taking into account the above comments, the proposed development for installation of a battery storage facility with associated infrastructure, CCTV and landscaping is deemed to be in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework, Central Lancashire Core Strategy, South Ribble Local Plan 2012 and the Penwortham Neighbourhood Development Plan 2017. It is therefore recommended for approval subject to the imposition of conditions."

If plans are passed, site construction is expected to be completed within six months and would require a workforce of up to 40 people during the initial ground work phases, reducing to 20 towards the latter phases of development.

Units would be manufactured off site and craned into position, and traffic movement is expected to be limited to around 10 lorries per day.

Once completed, the unit would be largely unmanned other than occasional visits from supervising engineers. A CCTV system to monitor the perimeter would be installed.