Wiltshire Publications

‘Almost identical’ gas plant plans opposed once more

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WESTBURY Town Council has once again objected to plans that would see the construction of a gas peaking plant in the town, with councillors saying that the application has not changed since its first refusal. 

This is the second attempt by the applicant, Eclipse Power Generation Ltd (EPGL), to get permission for the plant at Northacre Industrial Park, as they submitted plans previously at the start of the year. These plans were initially objected to by Westbury Town Council on 18th January and finally refused by Wiltshire Council on 9th March.  

EPGL has now submitted a new application that town councillors say is, “almost identical” to previous plans. The application was discussed at a meeting of the highways, planning and development committee of Westbury Town Council on Monday 20th June. 

Cllr Duncan Hamilton-Sheen, chair of HP&D said, “This appears to be exactly the same application that has been turned down by Wiltshire Council previously.” 

Mayor, cllr Sheila Kimmins, reminded councillors of the reasons they objected to this application previously.  

She said, “There is no change to this application from last time. We have said previously that it does not comply with Core Policy 55 by adding to the air pollution levels in the Westbury area, it does not comply with the climate emergency policies and announcements by Wiltshire Council and Westbury Town Council, and there was a lack of clarity on transport.” 

Wild claims

Cllr Gordon King added, “The applicant makes two wild claims- the first is that there is no other use of the plot and the second is that it will add meaningful employment. Those two claims are false; firstly, the plot is a managed car park that has a whole host of people who help manage the site (and they actually employ significantly more people than the proposed facility will bring), and secondly, the process is highly automated and will not add any meaningful employment to the local area.  

“There are also many different fuels they can use to operate the facility without reverting to gas or fossil fuels, such as battery or biofuel. Instead, they have chosen, purely on commercial grounds, to burn fossil fuels when there is no demand.  

“The applicant also hasn’t consulted with the other occupiers of the industrial estate – all of which object furiously to the application. One of them says it will have a detrimental impact on its premises (from things such as odour, noise, and vehicle deliveries) which are directly next door to this proposed facility.” 

The facility would sit next to the Royal Mail sorting office, in Kingdom Avenue on Northacre Industrial Park, which is also close to the residential area of The Ham. 

Gas-fired peaking plants are power plants designed to balance the fluctuating power requirement in the electricity network and operate during periods of high-level demand or shortfalls for electricity. EPGL claim in their planning statement submitted to Wiltshire Council that plants like the one proposed will be in demand as the UK shifts to more renewable energy sources, as it addresses the “imbalance and reduces stress on the electricity grid”.  

Wiltshire Council previously refused the application on the grounds that it would exacerbate an area of already poor air quality, and it would fail to protect public health and environmental quality. 

Wiltshire Council’s western area planning committee will meet on 6th July to decide the outcome of the application. 

To view the application, search 20/10440/FUL on the planning section of Wiltshire Council’s website.