DLP obtained full planning permission in November 2021 from Havering BC, on behalf of Clearstone Energy, in relation to land to the east of Warley Substation, Clay Tye Road, Upminster. The scheme was for the construction and operation of a battery storage facility with associated fencing, landscaping, and access road. The site, which is just over an acre, is located within the Metropolitan Green Belt and is covered by the Thames Chase Community Forest Area.
The demand for battery storage technology continues to grow rapidly as the immediacy of climate change, sustainability and environmental considerations become ever more apparent. Transitioning to a renewable energy fuelled world is a concept that has received additional traction since 2019 and the Climate Change Committee, with most recently in 2021, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). Significant new legislation in the UK includes the new Environment Bill and Act in 2020 and 2021 respectively. The need for cleaner energy sources is recognised and battery storage facilities form a crucial aspect of this initiative especially if the UK is to shift away from dependence on fossil-fuels and meet the Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2050.
The development at Upminster comprises 334 battery cabinets, alongside 23 inverter/transformers, which are controlled by a relay room. The battery storage will be connected to the existing transmission grid substation, which is owned and operated by National Grid Plc. The purpose is to aid National Grid Plc’s larger UK programme of delivering battery storage at electricity substations across the country in order to ensure that they can maintain the required levels of frequency and also balance national electricity supply and demand.
The location of the Battery storage unit within the overall curtilage of the Sub-Station site was selected on the basis of environmental criteria and following detailed discussions with National Grid.
As part of this planning application, DLP managed the preparation of the application. This included detailed liaison with the energy company; Clearstone Energy who were the clients, relevant external consultants and key Officers at the Council. The application was supported by a detailed assessment as to how the battery storage proposal would have only minimal impact on the Green Belt and issues of openness. This technical justification included a comprehensive package of application plans, elevations, and technical documents. This supporting documentation explained that the proposed technology would be acceptable in technical terms. In relation to noise issues, a key local issue, it was shown that only low levels of noise would occur and only when the battery was operational. In addition, these noise levels would be emitted primarily by the cooling system, which is required to maintain the temperature, for both charging and discharge phases.
Havering BC initially raised concerns regarding the appearance of the units and the accessibility of servicing in relation to HGVS. However, with small amendments to the Landscape Strategy to better screen the structure, and amendments to the configuration of the access road and turning points, the application was granted an approval in November 2021.