Allerton Bywater battery farm: Decision on Leeds storage plant delayed after 900 objections

A decision on whether a plans for an energy storage plant on green belt land can go ahead has been been deferred by councillors.
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Leeds City Council received more than 900 public objections to the plan for a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) near Allerton Bywater.

The scheme, proposed by Banks Renewables, would sit within a larger solar farm already given planning permission by the council.

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The council’s North and East plans panel was told the BESS, on land near Barnsdale Road, met the “very special circumstances” required to allow building on the green belt.

One of the proposed battery farm sites will be located around here, off Barnsdale Road (Photo by Google)One of the proposed battery farm sites will be located around here, off Barnsdale Road (Photo by Google)
One of the proposed battery farm sites will be located around here, off Barnsdale Road (Photo by Google)

But councillors decided more information was needed on issues including fire safety and whether alternative sites were properly looked at.

A plans panel meeting on Thursday was told ward councillors James Lewis and Mary Harland were among objectors to the scheme.

Coun Lewis told the meeting: “We have, as a council, agreed a solar farm at this location but I think this is a different matter we are looking at. We don’t believe this site is suitable.”

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Alison Davis, from the campaign group Save Our Villages, said the facility could be located further away from the solar farm and there were concerns over fire risks.

She said: “Further research should be done into alternative sites. It does not have to be co-located.”

The panel had been recommended to defer and delegate the scheme to the chief planning officer for approval. That would have seen it referred to the Secretary of State for housing, communities and local government because of its impact on the green belt.

Rachael Edmunds, of Banks Renewables, told the meeting fire safety concerns had been addressed and alternative sites were not deemed viable.

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She said: “Batteries are a safe, clean and highly efficient method for storing electricity. Safety has been at the forefront of the design of this scheme. ”

A report to the meeting said the benefits of the scheme outweighed its impact on the greenbelt. It said: “As such, the proposal is found to be in accordance with Leeds’ adopted development plan and national planning policy and is recommended for approval.”

But Coun Michael Millar, Labour member for Kippax and Methley, said: “I just don’t think we have enough information to make such a precedent-setting decision today, unfortunately.”

Banks Renewables has changed its named to OnPath Energy since making the application.

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Speaking after the meeting, sustainability and community director Robin Winstanley said: “While we’re keen to move this important project forward as soon as possible, especially after it received a recommendation for approval from Leeds City Council’s expert planning officers, we’re happy to provide the additional information that the members of the council’s planning committee have requested.

“Creating green energy storage capacity like the Barnsdale Battery Energy Storage System is a crucial part of meeting the country’s future energy needs.

“By balancing the electricity grid and reducing the wholesale energy price during periods of peak demand, it will also help to provide consumers with access to cheaper electricity.”