Heathfield Power Station application unanimously rejected by Teignbridge planning committee

This morning Teignbridge District Council unanimously rejected application 19/01342/FUL for a gas fired power plant at Heathfield.

First ACT’s Fuad Al-Tawil spoke against the application:

“The council’s unanimous and brave decision to declare a Climate Emergency inspired a huge number of us to act together to help the council fulfil their pledge of Net Zero Emissions for Teignbridge by 2025.

Please give us, and the country, a lead to show that you are serious about doing this.”

“Despite all our efforts we find that the updated report has actually embellished the misinformed evidence from the first report.  Some of this ‘evidence’ gives half the story, some skews the facts and quite a few are simply inaccurate.  This pseudo-evidence is then used to justify the development as being needed and complying with the CCC statements, the NPPF and LP policies.”

“If this is plant is intended to meet ‘peaking’ electricity demands as implied by the developer, it should only operate at the times indicated by WPD’s most recent tender for peaking plant in this area.  This equates to ~5% of the time, yet the applicant intends to operate it for ~50% of the time with no limits to stop that going to 80-90%.”

“Even worse, the declared operating period directly blocks additional renewable generation whether local or elsewhere.”

Here is the full text of Fuad’s speech, which regrettably was cut short by the bell.

Fuad was followed by Ben Wallace for the applicant. Mr. Wallace recited paragraph 3.3.1 of NPP EN-1 as justification for the application: “As a result, the more renewable generating capacity we have the more generation capacity we will require overall, to provide back-up at times when the availability of intermittent renewable sources is low. If fossil fuel plant remains the most cost-effective means of providing such back-up, particularly at short notice, it is possible that even when the UK’s electricity supply is almost entirely decarbonised we may still need fossil fuel power stations for short periods when renewable output is too low to meet demand, for example when there is little wind.

Cllr Sally Morgan, ward councillor for Bovey ward, then spoke passionately about the impact on the Bovey environment, followed by Cllr Avril Kerwell, also a councillor for Bovey ward, who echoed Cllr Morgan’s sentiments. These were followed by a succession of councillors speaking against, including Cllr Nutley, Cllr Keeling and Cllr Wrigley, who cited Dinorwig as a long established example of storage and urged us to write to government to get things changed. Several members spoke of the need to use existing green alternatives.

Cllr Jackie Hook then spoke, emphasising that this was not a council proposal but from a private company. She pointed out the factual inaccuracies in the applicant’s statement and stated that the application was clearly counter to policies S7 and EN3. She noted that para 3.3.1, which the applicant relied on, was written in 2011 and states that electricity can’t be stored, this policy only states that there might be a need for fossil fuelled plant. This need has not been proven. Cllr Hook also spoke of the need for planning officers to consider both sides of the argument. Cllr Clarence spoke about water power as a long established resource that we are not using.

The motion was then put to a recorded vote, where all the committee voted unanimously to reject the application.

Some points that emerged from the discussion were:

  • That the applicant’s web site guarantees 20 years income to site owners for this type of site.
  • Such a plant running for about 50% of the time would deny cleaner alternatives access to the grid.
  • That the need for this and similar application needs to be proven, and this has not been done.

The factual arguments put by ACT and other like minded  organisations have today won the argument.

A fuller account is now available on Devon Live.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.