The appellants argued that there was an overriding need for this type of flexible energy generation and that site selection was limited by the availability of suitable grid connections and gas supplies. They maintained that the appeal site was well screened from public vantage points and that the scheme involved an engineering operation. The inspector was not convinced by any of these arguments. He held that placing four seven-metre-high tanks and five other structures on a plot measuring 56 by 31 metres would comprise construction of buildings and would be inappropriate development.
He dismissed claims that the structures would not be visible from public vantage points, citing the spatial as well as visual aspects of green belt openness. In this regard, he considered that the development would "suburbanise" the site with a very large utilitarian development that would be discordant, incongruous and out of keeping with its rural surroundings and the area’s character and appearance. The appellants’ indication that the development would be removed after 35 years meant it would lead to far more than "temporary" harm to openness, character and appearance, he found.
The inspector recognised the need to ensure that gaps in energy distribution are filled at peak times. But he saw no substantive evidence why this had to take place at the appeal site or that the surrounding locality, which the facility was purported to support, suffered from any type of disruption to power services. He concluded that the special circumstances put forward by the appellants did not outweigh the great importance attached to green belt protection by the government.
Inspector: Graham Wyatt; Written representations