Eden’s Green group leader was brought almost to tears as planners granted permission for two electricity generating gas peaking plants at Shap — despite being implored by conservationists to reject the application.
The peaking plants will run for roughly 4,000 hours per year and collectively generate 45MW of electricity to cover peak demand.
While natural gas is a fossil fuel rather than a renewable energy source, the applicants, Shap Energy Generation and Fell Energy Generation, both formed by the company Adaptive Energy Solutions Limited, argued that gas peaking plants answered an urgent need for a mixed energy generation infrastructure in documents before Eden District Council’s planning committee last week.
Electricity North West Construction and Maintenance, in support of the applications, said: “Gas plants like this allow our area to benefit from power when needed providing resilience to the local grid, stopping outages which cause blackouts, without having to spend more money on installing more cables and overhead lines into the area.”
A total of 36 objections were received to the proposal for the two plants, in two separate applications.
This included Shap Parish Council which raised a number of concerns including the proximity of the site to the village and the impact it would have on the views afforded to residents, alongside safety concerns. They said it would not benefit the community of Shap.
Objector Dr Henry Adams claimed the carbon emissions the plants would produce would be “shockingly huge” and would “make a mockery” of Eden Council declaring a climate emergency in 2019.
Ali Ross (Green, Penrith North) proposed the council reject the application: “This development has been portrayed as renewable enabling and a low carbon associated development but as we have heard this is not the full representation of the case.
“This gas generator would be a massive emitter of greenhouse gases.
“As Dr Adams presented some 90,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and proposed operation of the plant at 4,000 hours per year — that’s 11 hours per day — is clearly not just providing peak power demand cover.”
She added that the plants would bring no benefit locally in terms of jobs, services in the area being used or profits going back into the area, cause further degradation of the landscape and industrialise a rural site.
However, Ian Chambers (Con, Eamont Bridge) said he was unsure about the adverse impact on the landscape given that the plants would sit alongside the existing Tata Steel site which, he said, can be seen from miles away and are a lot bigger than the proposed plants.
Margaret Clark (Ind, Penrith South) added: “I think we have to remember Shap is traditionally an industrial village and always has been. I don’t think it’s going to cause any landscape harm whatsoever, given that it’s next to Tata Steel.”
Debra Wicks (Con, Greystoke) commented that the planning application must be decided on the affect the development will have on the land. Officers backed this up saying it must be decided in relation to planning regulations, not environmental considerations.
A vote of councillors saw the motion to reject the application fail and instead a proposal to approve the plant was put forward by Ian Chambers and granted with six councillors in favour and four against.
In considering the application for the second plant Eden’s Green group leader Ali Ross was brought to tears, as she implored councillors to consider the affect on the planet and “our children’s future”.
Her proposal to reject the second plant failed and this was approved in a subsequent vote.