New gas power plant planned for Iron Acton green belt land

April 02 2020
New gas power plant planned for Iron Acton green belt land

PLANS have been submitted for a power plant within the green belt in Iron Acton that could supply electricity to 50,000 homes.

Harbour Energy hopes to install 11 gas engines off Larks Lane that could reach full output – 49.5 megawatts – within five minutes.

The new plant would help to compensate for greener forms of energy, kicking in if there is a sudden dip in production that coincides with a period of high demand.

If approved it will be built next to the existing National Grid substation at Larks Lane (pictured).

The planning application says: “The proposed development would contract with National Grid and supply electricity at short notice during periods of high net demand or system stress.

The likelihood of these stress events occurring have increased in recent years with the high deployment of renewable (intermittent) energy generation and the decommissioning of large conventional power stations.

The proposed development will contribute additional capacity to the national grid, supplying electricity when necessary to help the Government meet the targets of a low carbon, affordable and secure energy market.

This flexible generation plant allows more reliance on intermittent low carbon renewable generation sources due to its rapid start up and ability to deliver 4.5MW to 49.5MW of electrical power to the grid as and when required.”

The firm says there is a growing need for such “peaking” power plants – the current capacity is 1.5 gigawatts but that is expected to increase six-fold over the next 30 years.

The power plant would be built on a vacant piece of land next to an existing substation.

Harbour Energy says there are no viable alternatives outside the green belt and the site is otherwise well placed away from housing and with gas and grid connections.

The application says: “Whilst the proposed development is inappropriate development within the green belt, very special circumstances in support of granting planning permission demonstrably exist.”

That is because there is a clear need to ensure the supply, and it will help boost the generation of renewable energy.

The plant would typically operate seven days a week between 7am and 11am, and from 3.30pm to 7.30pm. The plans say there would not be an unacceptable impact on air quality.

The 11 gas engines would sit within concrete containers with 12-metre-high exhausts, surrounded by 2.4-metre-high fencing.

South Gloucestershire Council will decide the fate of the application.

By Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporting Service