Electricity substation plans for Biggleswade are being recommended for approval

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The substation would provide an extra 80 megawatts of electrical power capacity for the local area

Plans for an electricity substation on 58 acres of agricultural land in Biggleswade are being recommended for approval by local authority planning officers.

The substation would provide an extra 80 megawatts of electrical power capacity for the local area, which could cater for around 40,000 people.

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Eastern Power Networks plc has submitted full plans for an electricity substation, access and other works on land to the north of Dunton Lane.

Biggleswade Substation Plan.Biggleswade Substation Plan.
Biggleswade Substation Plan.

The site is used for arable purposes and contains a barn, while part of the land is owned by Central Bedfordshire Council, according to a report to its development management committee.

The project includes two compounds, one of which is a National Grid location (Biggleswade 400kv substation) and the other a UK Power Networks site (Biggleswade east grid), explained the report.

"The National Grid section will connect to the overhead pylons, before being transferred underground to the UK Power Networks compound to be distributed to the local area."

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A lower voltage after the transformation process will provide electricity to residential and commercial properties.

"To the north of the application site is the East of Biggleswade garden community Local Plan allocation for 1,500 homes," said the report.

"While the proposed development wouldn't comply with one of the adopted CBC Local Plan policies, it's thought that material considerations outweigh non-compliance with this policy.

"This includes the need to support development within the area (as required by the Local Plan) and the location of the overhead power lines.

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"The development of best and most versatile agricultural land would present a small economic loss, but overall the scheme would provide significant economic and social benefits to the area.

"It's therefore acceptable both in principle and in all other respects, subject to suitable mitigation through planning conditions."

Biggleswade Town Council has no objection to the development, after its initial concerns over landscaping appear to have been addressed.

It asks for a planning condition to require power to leave the site underground and not via pylons, wants a new north to south right of way to be a bridleway, and developer contributions to upgrade play areas locally.

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Earlier in the planning process, deputy mayor Grant Fage told 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 said.

"Biggleswade Town Council recognises the need to increase the power supply in the town and the strategic importance of successfully delivering a new substation."

There are three objections, added the report, opposing the use of agricultural land, highlighting the presence of great crested newts and badgers, and wondering whether the new homes and infrastructure are actually needed.

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Comments also referred to "a lack of noise mitigation information" and fears the "low hum could harm wildlife".

The committee is due to consider the plans at its meeting on Wednesday. (Mar 16th)

SOURCE: Central Bedfordshire Council development management committee agenda.