Town council opposes plans for electricity substation in Biggleswade
Councillors expressed concerns over landscaping
Plans for an electricity substation on 58 acres of agricultural land in Biggleswade are being opposed by the town council.
But its fears over landscaping issues could be resolved before the project is considered by Central Bedfordshire Council's development management committee.
The National Grid and UK Power Networks have submitted plans to Central Beds Council for the substation and an access road on land to the north of Dunton Lane.
Once installed it would provide an extra 80 megawatts of electrical power capacity for the local area, which could cater for around 40,000 people.
Deputy mayor Grant Fage described it as "a lengthy process" to reach this stage, telling a town council meeting: "This was in the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid, initiated in 2017 and which became public in 2018.
"This is a planning application required to meet project milestones in conjunction with Homes England to keep on track and unlock that funding," he explained.
"Biggleswade Town Council recognises the need to increase the power supply in the town and the strategic importance of successfully delivering a new substation.
"That said the substation and subsequent landscaping are vital for preserving Biggleswade's rural heritage and for meeting the unique aspirations of the new garden village to the east of the town.
"This application doesn't provide sufficient detail on the exact landscaping. There's little visual evidence of the extent to which the large structures will be shielded from sight, as well as from passing walkers, motorists and nearby properties.
"This is particularly the case with the new footpath to the east side of the site, which appears completely exposed to views of the substation with no mitigating hedgerow."
The town council understands "further documentation might be forthcoming", he said.
"But for now comments can only reflect what's included on the planning portal, so as a result the town council objects to this application.
"Perhaps there will be room for dialogue. If we were to put in that objection hopefully that creates space around those specific issues.
"This is a very complex and difficult application. These are two sticking points which are so important to the town I think we have to make them in that way."
Town councillors voted unanimously to object because the landscaping documents on the planning portal are insufficient for what the council wants and thought it had agreed with UK Power Networks and National Grid.
Conservative Biggleswade North and town councillor Ian Bond, who sits on CBC's development management committee, took no part in the discussion or vote.
The committee will have the final say on whether to approve or refuse the plans.
The Biggleswade substation project website explained two compounds are needed. These are: "A National Grid site (Biggleswade 400kv substation) and a UK Power Networks site (Biggleswade east grid).
"Together, these two compounds will draw electrical power from the overhead lines which run over the site, and then transform that down to a lower voltage to provide electricity to residential and commercial properties."