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Energy company appeal planning decision for diesel power station in Lawrence Hill.

Feature photo: Mathias/Flickr CC

Plutus Energy today lodged an appeal against the council’s refusal of their application to build a 48-generator diesel power station in Feeder Road, Lawrence Hill.

The plans were refused by councillors at the planning committee stage last September after a concerted community campaign. The decision was unusual as the plan had been recommended for approval by planning officers.

Councillors sitting on the planning committee at the time noted the local people’s grave concerns about air quality, which is already dangerously poor in Lawrence Hill.

The plant, which is close to St Philips Marsh Nursery School, was initially proposed in autumn 2015, and was to burn ordinary diesel. When that incarnation of the plan was recommended for refusal by planning officers, Plutus Energy withdraw the application – only to return in February 2016 with a revised plan that changed the proposed fuel from diesel to biodiesel.

Campaigners with RADE (Residents Against Dirty Energy), and other opponents such as local councillors Hibaq Jama and Margaret Hickman, remained vehemently opposed. Councillors were sceptical of the claim that the power station wouldn’t add to the area’s air pollution, and unconvinced that the short operating times in the application would be adhered to.

The power station application is for a ‘flexible generation facility’. Under the government’s plans to ensure back-up power in times of high demand, these smaller plants are paid large subsidies to be available to connect to the National Grid at peak times, but do not run constantly. Criticisms of the ‘capacity market’, as the plans are known, are that the government has essentially subsidised dirty energy.

Bruce Yates, a campaigner with RADE, expressed the last time the plans were assessed at planning committee, the council could be “afraid of getting sued”, should the company take legal action about the refusal.

The appeal has not yet been given an expiry date and there are no details yet as to the important dates from the council. This page will be updated when more information becomes available.

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