Plans for new power station rejected again by councillors

Site of the proposed power station. Picture: Google.
Site of the proposed power station. Picture: Google.

Plans for a gas-fired power station on a greenfield site have been thrown out for a second time.

Energy firm Enso Energy applied for permission for the scheme on land between Durham Lane and the North West Industrial Estate.

Initial proposals were rejected in May over the loss of agricultural land and impact on the countryside, with applicants forced to go back to the drawing board.

They presented revised proposals to Durham County Council’s Central and East Planning Committee.

This included reducing the number of gas generators on site, building four-metre high acoustic fences and using tree planting to screen views.

Despite officers recommending the plans for approval, the changes were not enough to sway councillors, who raised fears about the loss of land and wider environmental impacts.

This included concerns from Coun Alan Gardner that plans could increase County Durham’s “carbon footprint” at a time where local authorities are aiming to reduce it.

The Embedded Distributed Power Plant aims to provide extra power to balance the National Grid at peak times and would operate around 2,000 hours per year.

During consultation. objections were received from Easington Village Parish Council, PeterleeTown Council and nine residents, raising issues of noise, visual impact and air pollution.

Neighbouring farmer Natalie Wilson, speaking at the meeting at Durham County Hall, added the plans would have a “massive impact” on farm operations, including 24-hour access needed to secure the land.

Questions were also raised about how suitable the location was, given nearby solar farm, nuclear power station, industrial site and pylons.

A representative for Enso Energy, responding, argued the plans would help “balance the supply and demand of the energy network” at a national level with the Peterlee site also monitored by an Environment Agency permit.

Committee chairman, Coun Paul Taylor, warned the committee of the consequences of rejecting the application, including a potential appeal from developers.

Solicitor to the committee, Neil Carter, added that it was “difficult to sustain a refusal without support from (planning) officers”.

After a motion to approve the application was narrowly defeated, a motion for refusal was carried by 7-5 with reasons for refusal outlined.

Coun June Clark cited planning policies around protecting public health and general amenity and the lack of information on how emissions would be reduced from the plant.

Coun Gardner noted planning policy around reducing the impact of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service