300MW gas-fired power station in Bedfordshire given green light

Plans for a 300 megawatt gas-fired power station in Bedfordshire have been given the go-ahead under the streamlined Planning Act 2008 regime for major infrastructure.

A visualisation of the proposed gas-fired power station at Rookery South. Pic: Millbrook Power
A visualisation of the proposed gas-fired power station at Rookery South. Pic: Millbrook Power

Applicant Millbrook Power, part of energy firm Drax, was granted a development consent order (DCO) for the Millbrook Power plant by business secretary Greg Clarke last week. 

Covering an area of about eight hectares, the plant would be built at a forrner clay pit in Rookery South near Stewartby, between Bedford and Milton Keynes.

The proposed development would also include: a gas turbine generator, an access road; a temporary construction compound; a 1.8 km underground gas pipeline connection; a 500m underground electrical connection.

According to Millbrook Power, the power plant would have the capacity to generate up to 299 MW, providing enough electricity to power 150,000 households. It would operate as a ‘peaking plant’, the applicant added, generating electricity at times when the country’s need is greatest.

The Planning Inspectorate examiners found the proposal "would have adverse effects on noise during construction, landscape and visual impacts and on the setting of historic assets", the secretary of state's decision letter said, and these impacts "could not be fully addressed" by the order's proposed mitigation measures.

However, the letter said the secretary of state found that a "high weighting should be given to the established need for the development of electricity generating facilities, and that these local adverse effects do not outweigh the benefits of new fossil fuel generation". 

The secretary of state therefore concluded that "there is a compelling case for granting development consent", adding: "Given the national need for the proposed development, as set out in the relevant National Policy Statements ... the secretary of state does not believe that this is outweighed by the proposed development’s potential adverse local impacts, as mitigated by the proposed terms of the order."

The promoter, who submitted the DCO application in October 2017, hopes the power station would enter commercial operation as early as 2022 and would create about 150 jobs during the two-year construction phase. 

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO said: "Securing this approval is a crucial step in ensuring development of the new gas generation the UK needs to provide flexible power and system support services to the electricity grid as part of the country’s transition to a low carbon economy.

"Rapid response gas power stations are agile enough to ramp up quickly and support the grid at times of peak demand, making them highly complementary to intermittent renewable sources of power, like wind and solar."

Another scheme at Rookery South, an energy from waste facility directly north of the proposal site, was granted development consent in 2011. However, the permission was subject to a legal challenge and the consent was finally upheld by the Court of Appeal in February 2015

More details on the gas-fired power station can be found here.

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