Fifty batteries the size of a lorry to be placed on green belt land as part of £20m energy storage facility

The battery storage site will be next to the Bradford West substation. Credit: Google
The battery storage site will be next to the Bradford West substation. Credit: Google
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Plans to install an array of 50 huge batteries in a Wilsden field as part of a £20 million energy storage scheme have been approved.

The energy storage facility will be built in a Green Belt field off Old Allen Road, Wilsden, and made up of 14 metre by 2.4 metre battery units.

UK Battery Storage Ltd’s plans were first approved by Bradford Council in spring, but more detailed plans had to be approved before the large scale scheme could go ahead.

At a meeting of the Council’s Bradford Area Planning Panel on Thursday, councillors approved the full application.

Members were told the site, next to the large Bradford West Substation, was the only location in the Bradford district where the scheme could be located.

The battery array, which will be in place for 20 years, would be used to store excess energy.

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It would be surrounded by bunding and new tree planting to make sure the batteries are not overly prominent in the Green Belt site. Access would be from Old Allen Road.

The planning application said the array would provide “rapid-response electrical back-up to the National Grid and would represent an early deployment within the UK of a high-tech grid balancing facility, of a type which is already seeing significant deployment in the USA and other parts of the world.

“The project represents sustainable development in that it would add resilience to the UK’s electrical grid, bringing associated economic and social benefits.”

Eight people had objected to the plans, raising concerns that the battery array could prove a fire risk, and that it would look out of place in the Green Belt.

A report to the panel recommended members approve the plans, saying: “The site is located within the Green Belt and whilst an inappropriate form of development, information submitted in support of the outline application set out a compelling case for very special circumstances.

"It was argued that this is the only sub-station within Bradford District with the potential to accommodate the required flows of electricity.”

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David Hawksworth spoke at the meeting on behalf of objectors. He said: “We do have safety concerns, each container will be the equivalent size of an articulated lorry, and there will be 50 of these. If any one of these caught fire it could quickly spread to the others.”

Dean Staveley, representing the applicants, said each of the units would include fire detection and suppression systems that would put out any flames before they spread. He said the risk of fire spreading was “insignificant.”

Without these systems in place before the array was up and running, they would not be able to get insurance for it – the panel were told. Mr Staveley said after the batteries were installed there would be little traffic and minimal access to the site – most of the monitoring was done remotely and it would only require a maintenance crew to visit every few months.

He said the project would cost around £20 million.

Councillors voted to approve the scheme.