Stand-by generator judged to boost renewable capacity

Despite council opposition and public protests, an inspector has approved a gas-powered stand-by generation facility on vacant land at a Devon business park.

The 7MW development was intended to maintain power supply to the business park during peak demand and would be linked to the same circuit as the appellants’ 4MW solar park next to the appeal site. The council, backed by local residents and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, had refused the application as contrary to policy because it failed to minimise use of fossil fuels or reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The inspector agreed that the development would have an adverse effect on climate change through greenhouse gas emissions. As the NPPF and PPG offer no guidance on how stand-by generating capacity squares with the transition to a low-carbon economy, he found that they offered neither support nor grounds for refusal. However, he considered that national policy statements on energy and on fossil fuel electricity generating infrastructure, while intended to be applied to nationally significant infrastructure projects, are a material consideration for smaller schemes.

He concluded that national energy policy tipped the balance in favour of a development that could help with the transition to a low-carbon economy by complementing renewable energy capacity. He held that the proposal accorded with the development plan overall, taking into account the economic benefits of energy security.

Inspector: John Woolcock; Written representations

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