The Government is encouraging the development of backup generation and battery storage in the countryside as means of increasing electricity supply. CPRE Wiltshire has produced a booklet exploring the issues raised by planning applications to implement these processes.
Backup generation is usually provided by a cluster of diesel- or gas-powered engines that can be brought into service at short notice.
Battery storage is usually in the form of large numbers of industrial-scale batteries packed together, which take in and store electricity when there is more available than the National Grid needs, and release it when the Grid needs more than is available from usual day-to-day sources.
For the CPRE, these industrial processes are presenting new problems. They use large steel-framed structures and converted shipping containers to house the equipment they require. (For example, the proposal for a development near Charlton, Wiltshire included 17 converted shipping containers, each 53ft (16.1 m) long , standing 15 ft (4.5m) above ground level). These alien features in the countryside are usually enclosed by a steel palisade security fence, which in turn is encircled by hedging and trees to ‘mitigate’ the visual and landscape impacts they create.
We recognise that new supplies of electricity are needed, but we believe the sites chosen for building them should be carefully controlled. The industrial equipment these processes require should be sited in industrial settings, or on brownfield land. Only in exceptional circumstances should greenfield sites be used. Unfortunately, there is little official guidance, either from Government or local authorities, steering these developments away from the countryside. So with the help of an engineering consultant who was formerly a manager at National Grid, CPRE Wiltshire has produced a booklet, Guidance for assessing planning applications for small-scale battery storage and backup generation facilities.
Paper copies of the booklet are available from: CPRE Wiltshire, Renelec House, 46 New Park Street, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 1DT. A PDF copy (15 Mb) can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .