Rudd approves south Wales gas plant NSIP

Plans for a new 150MW gas-fired power station at a steelworks in south Wales have been given the go-ahead by energy secretary Amber Rudd.

Port Talbot steelworks (picture by Matt Jones, Flickr)
Port Talbot steelworks (picture by Matt Jones, Flickr)

In a decision letter issued yesterday, Rudd approved an application for the internal power station enhancement for Port Talbot steelworks, which had been considered under the fast-track Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime. 

Applicant Tata Steel UK Limited had sought development consent for the construction and operation of an electricity generating station with a proposed installed capacity of up to 150MW which would largely utilise waste gases from the Port Talbot Steelworks to generate electricity for use within the steelworks plant.

The development is intended to comprise up to two steam boilers and their associated stacks - standing at a maximum of 80 metres in height - as well as a turbine hall, cooling tower units, an electrical switchgear station building and a range of other elements.

Planning inspector Roger Eyre recommended that secretary of state should approve the application.

In her decision letter, Rudd agreed with the inspector that there are "strong grounds for granting consent for the development, given that it supports government policy objectives for energy as set out in relevant National Policy Statements and Welsh and local planning policy". The letter added that the benefits of the projects "are not outweighed by the potential local adverse impacts".

Rudd’s decision letter said that she agreed with the inspector’s conclusion that the development would generate economic benefits through "reducing costs at the steelworks thus helping to make it more competitive".

In making her decision, Rudd considered whether a number of items of infrastructure on the applicant’s site that are not strictly necessary for the generation of electricity, but which are necessary for the construction and operation of the generating station, such as the natural gas and grid connections, should be classified as "associated development".

In Wales, the secretary of state is not able to grant permission for associated development as this infrastructure falls outside of the NSIP regime in the principality.

Decisions issued on Welsh NSIPs since the general election make clear that the secretary of state considers that "associated development" does not fall within the scope of the Planning Act 2008 regime in Wales.

Rudd’s decision letter on the Port Talbot project said that she had concluded that the works are "an integral part of the generating station and that these connections are fully internal to the existing steelworks site, are on land owned by the applicant and are fundamental to the proposed development. Accordingly, provision for these works has been made in the order made by the secretary of state".

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