The piecemeal destruction of a tranquil rural landscape

We desperately need your help in publicising the piecemeal destruction of a tranquil rural landscape. I am a Hawkchurch resident and a member of the Hawkchurch Action Group fighting a planning application for a Diesel Powered Flexible Generation Facility off Pound Road, Hawkchurch [EDDC 17/1221/FUL]. This 20MW facility will comprise 14 diesel generators. Contrary to what the promoter, Plutus Power, says this is not actually a ‘Flexible Generation Facility’ but a STOR facility. 

Link to EDDC planning portal: https://planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=OQEXVSGHFRK00

Why are we so angry about this?

It is not because we are against renewable energy. We understand the importance of that and we also understand the complications of intermittent supply. But these plants are not in the least bit green. How is it that UK energy policy has resulted in the most polluting, inefficient and expensive form of generation as back-up and then have them put directly into the rural countryside?! And why is it fair that the Parish of Hawkchurch, which sits just outside the Dorset AONB, should have to suffer such a concentration of industrial facilities? 

Pollution 

As you no doubt will have read, these diesel plants have generated an angry response in other parts of the country given the air and noise pollution they cause. By our calculations, the 300 hours these plants are expected to run is equivalent to 1000 diesel cars driving 10,000 miles a year all parked in the same spot! Think of the pollution from that, especially on a cold, still winters evening, when they are most likely to be needed. There is uproar in Plymouth where residents have woken up late to the problem. A similar application has recently been refused by the Bristol City Council. 

Industrialisation of Hawkchurch   

This is probably our most pressing issue. Hawkchurch has become a magnet for solar parks, and now back-up supply, due to the capacity at the local sub-station and availability of cheap agricultural land. This is deeply unfair. 

– The area around Hawkchurch now has some 100 acres of solar parks. There are an additional 25 acres just across the border into Dorset and 25 acres more just outside the Parish below Raymond’s Hill. The highest concentration in Devon. Construction of the most recent park is being completed now to the north of Hawkchurch. Thankfully, we had one major success in the rejection of a large park at Sadborow in 2016, which was to be situated in an area visible from the AONB. You may recall that case.

– Last year, an application [EDDC 16/2082/FUL] for a 20MW gas STOR facility at Stonebarrow close to the location of the proposed diesel facility was withdrawn following strong local objection – siting and clear line of site from the AOND being two problems plus they ‘forgot’ to include the gas supply in the planning perimeter. There is a risk it might return. This is an example of the renewable energy planning gone mad.  Why can it possibly make sense to put a large gas turbine in the middle of the countryside – and where there is no gas mains supply? 

– An application for a 10MW battery storage facility has been submitted, also on Pound Road, but not yet validated on the EDDC system. As you may know, these battery facilities actually make some 2/3 of their profit from trading; so a large industrial trading facility stuck in the middle of the countryside….again, why does that make sense? 

Without doubt, all of this activity will have a massive cumulative effect on the beauty and tranquillity of the rural landscape around Hawkchurch. The Hawkchurch Parish is close to the Dorset AONB and Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and the site of proposed diesel generators is less than a mile from the SSSI encompassing Lamberts Castle. This cannot be the right place to site an ever increasing set of industrial plants. The industrialisation of the countryside really must stop! 

Next Tuesday, 20th June, the CEO of Plutus Powergen is coming to Hawkchurch Village Hall to present his scheme to the Parish Councillors. The village will be there in strength to protest. The gas station application last year received over 350 objections on the EDDC website. Local people are up in arms.

Please come along on the 20th, help us publicise out predicament, and put an end to this madness!

This issue of diesel power stations has been well covered in the national press. This article mentions the developer Plutus Powergen by name: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/06/diesel-farms-national-grid-tax-breaks

This one explains why Greenpeace hates diesel: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/dec/08/heavily-polluting-diesel-farms-make-millions-subsidies-ippr

Yours gratefully on behalf of all the residents of Hawkchurch,

David Huggins