Proposal for micro power plant in Chichester sparks objections

Business owners in Chichester are raising their voices in protest against a proposal to build a micro power plant on their doorstep.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 11:16 am

Plans to build an ‘urban reserve’ plant on Scopwick Road, which would consist of a 2.5MW generator fuelled by natural gas, with a 7m high exhaust stack, have been submitted by AMP Energy Services to Chichester District Council.

According to the applicant, the plant would provide ‘back up’ power – generating electricity which would then be consumed locally.

Business owners neighbouring the site have raised concerns about the impact of noise and air pollution from the plant.

Business owners protesting against plans for a micro power plant

Luke Mead, the managing director of LMS in Quarry Lane, feared it would ‘massively impact’ on his business, which is just 30m away from the proposed site.

“If it was in a heavy industrial area you could understand, but the fact that it’s in a B1 office space – it’s far from acceptable,” he said.

He said there was no mention of the carbon dioxide or nitrogen oxide output from the development and said: “Given that we’re a working office environment, and our office would be very close to the development, this would have a huge negative effect on the health and wellbeing of my staff.”

Mr Mead, who started his IT and Telecoms support company out of his bedroom when he was just 15 and moved the business to Quarry Lane in September 2018, said his concerns were also shared by other nearby businesses – which include a gym and dental surgery.

They are concerned about the potential impact on air quality

More than 30 businesspeople attended a meeting he organised on Thursday to discuss concerns about the planning application.

The site of the proposed development, which would be known as Scopwick Power, is currently used for self-storage units – which Mr Mead said were well-used by local tradespeople.

He also pointed out that Chichester District Council declared a climate emergency last year and recently adopted a climate emergency plan which includes measures to help reduce carbon emissions in the area – which he said would be incompatible with approving a fossil fuel-powered plant.

In a planning statement, the applicant argues that the micro power plant actually supports the continued expansion of renewable energy.

The site on Scopwick Road is currently used by self-storage units

By generating electricity locally, it supports the move away from ‘large inflexible, centralised carbon intensive power stations’ and reduces the energy lost from transporting electricity around the country, the applicant said.

The company argues that, while the UK is becoming increasingly reliant on wind and solar farms, there are times when these fail to generate enough electricity to meet demand.

The micro plant would operate 15 to 20 per cent of the time, only generating power when demand was at its highest – most frequently during the weekday peak of 4pm to 7pm – or when the generation from renewables falls short of demand, according to the applicant.

In terms of the impact on air quality, the company has said that a ‘full air quality assessment’ would be carried as part of the process to apply for an environmental permit for the development.

According to the results of a noise assessment included in the planning statement, the plant would be ‘unlikely to have an adverse noise impact’.

Concerns about the development have also been raised by The Chichester Society.

In its submission to the council, the group called for ‘this unattractive installation’ to be refused.

The society said the proposal ‘did not sit well’ with the council’s plans to limit carbon emissions, and said that battery storage of surplus power generated by wind and solar sources was ‘the environmentally preferable method of overcoming natural drops in generation from these sources’.

A report by planning advisors for Chichester City Council recommends that councillors object to the planning application when they discuss it on Wednesday.

The report states: “Fossil fuels are unsustainable both in terms of being finite in supply and in terms of the impacts upon climate change.

“No data has been submitted supporting the need for a fossil fuel powered local power plant, which would be contrary to national and local planning policy.”

Mr Mead and other business owners have launched the following website, which explains more about how people can raise their thoughts on the application – visit the website here: https://www.stopscopwickpower.com/

AMP Energy Services has been approached for a comment.

To see the plans in full, search reference 19/02845/FUL on Chichester District Council’s planning website.