Another push for gas-fired power plant on Green Belt near Little Wymondley
PUBLISHED: 07:01 05 February 2018 | UPDATED: 07:43 05 February 2018
Danny Loo Photography 2017
A controversial plan to build a gas-fired power plant between Hitchin and Stevenage is back on the table after another planning application went in.
London-based Wymondley Power Ltd proposes a 49.99MW gas-peaking electricity-generating station on Green Belt land near Little Wymondley to satisfy peak demand for a 20-year period described as temporary.
The site, next to the existing Wymondley Substation off Blackmore End Road, is a former landfill created during the construction of the A602, which is now used for the grazing of horses from eight stables.
The proposed plant would comprise 11 gas engines, each with a chimney and an array of cooling fans, with a 2½-metre security fence around the site.
The company sought planning permission last year but failed to persuade North Herts District Council’s planning control committee, which turned the application down by a majority.
This latest application is identical apart from the shortening of the proposed stack heights to 9.2m from 15m, a revised drainage design, and the limiting of operation to 1,500 hours, or 62½ days, per year, on a rolling five-year average.
The original plan called for a corresponding limit of 2,250 hours – almost 94 days – per year.
Last year, representatives from Wymondley were united in the view that it would be a blot on the landscape – and district council planning officer Kate Poyser agreed with them that the plant would be inappropriate for the Green Belt.
She wrote that the applicant, in her view, followed only a “conflicting and confused” process for selecting the site, and that there were therefore no special circumstances to set aside the Green Belt objection.
Arguing for approval before the planning committee in October, Wymondley Power Ltd’s Andrew Troup said: “The support is needed for the grid, unfortunately. I wouldn’t be here proposing this on Green Belt if I had alternatives, I can assure you.”
Asked where the extra demand was, he cited “a change in the electricity delivery system, as we have a quarter of our power now coming from wind”.
The new application is out for public consultation until Friday, February 16. To see it for yourself, go to the NHDC planning portal at north-herts.gov.uk and look up reference 17/04353/FP.