Decision due on East Sussex energy storage facility

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Plans to create an energy storage facility near Hooe are set to go in front of Wealden planners.

On Thursday (May 16), Wealden District Council’s Planning Committee South is due to consider an application to erect 26 blocks of containerised battery energy storage cabinets and associated electrical infrastructure on land at Olives Farm.

According to the application, the facility would provide infrastructure intended to enable “a faster transition” to renewable energy sources.

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In a statement submitted as part of the application, a spokesman for the developer said: “The proposed development is a key technology in the UK’s energy systems transition to a robust, low carbon, secure, and flexible energy system powered by intermittent renewable sources such as winds and solar.

Land at Olives Farm, near Hooe. Pic: ContributedLand at Olives Farm, near Hooe. Pic: Contributed
Land at Olives Farm, near Hooe. Pic: Contributed

“One of the challenges of deploying renewable energy is that the peak periods of generation often do not coincide with the peak periods of demand. Since the electricity grid cannot store electricity itself, it needs a series of battery energy storage systems to store excess renewable energy until it is demanded.

“Projects like the proposed development will enable a faster transition to the low carbon future powered by intermittent renewable sources and help meet the UK Government’s target of Net Zero by 2050.”

While recommended for approval the scheme has seen objections raised by several local residents, who argue it would harm the character and appearance of the area.

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Concerns have also been raised by ward councillor Mark Fairweather (Lib Dem), who called the application into the committee for discussion.

In a note explaining his reasons for calling in the application, Cllr Fairweather said: “This is inevitably bulky [and] incongruous industrial machinery being placed in a predominantly agricultural environment that will be conspicuous and visible from a long way away, especially given that this site is elevated above the Levels.

“Pevensey Levels are basically flat, with little tall screening vegetation so this will be visible from Boreham Street and Boreham Lane and Ninfield directions. Also it will be obviously visible, for several years, from footpath HOO/2/1 regardless of how much screening vegetation is planted as the screening will take years to grow to its full height.”

An objection was also submitted by Wartling Parish Council, which argues the screening of the site would be insufficient to prevent visual harm. It goes on to argue the units should also be camouflaged to reduce their visual impact.

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Hooe Parish Council did not formally object to planning permission being granted, although it did highlight several areas of concern, including the visual impact of the scheme.

For further information about the proposals see application reference WD/2022/3191/MAJ on the Wealden District Council website.