More than 1,700 Hertsmere residents have objected to a planning application for a Battery Energy Storage Site (BESS) on green belt land adjacent to Letchmore Heath.
The proposal, which was formally submitted by Chiltern Green Energy to Hertsmere Borough Council (HBC) on November 14, has been lambasted for greenwashing and jeopardising the safety of residents in Letchmore Heath, Radlett, Bushey and beyond. The application is for a battery storage site housing 400 battery units, each 3×6 metres in size, and a number of 6.5m-high substations.
In a video released on Facebook on November 7, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, MP for Hertsmere, stated that he would join residents in campaigning against the development.
Mr Dowden MP said: “There are real worries about the effect [the site] would have on the green belt [and about] fire risks. It’s not right for our area and it shouldn’t happen.”
Amongst consultee responses, the Environment Agency has submitted an objection citing “unacceptable risk of pollution to groundwater”. Elstree Aerodrome has also objected, citing the site’s infringement on its Air Traffic Zone and “fire risk”.
Members of the Save Hertsmere activist group argue that the development would constitute “inappropriate development of green belt land”. They also oppose the fire risk posed by storing so many batteries on one site, the site’s inaccessibility by road, danger to wildlife, loss of agricultural land, and noise pollution.
Janet Engels, of the Letchmore Heath Village Trust, is determined to expose what she terms the “source neutrality” of the project.
In a 34-page document on behalf of the trust, Janet wrote: “Battery energy storage is often mistakenly viewed as being green energy. What a BESS does is store energy that has already been generated from a mixture of sources, including coal, gas and nuclear.
“The energy is bought from the National Grid when prices are low and is then sold back when prices are high.”
In their planning statement submitted on behalf of Chiltern Green Energy, M2 suggested that the proposed BESS would “increase renewable energy capacity”. However, Janet explains that in a meeting with developers, a spokesperson conceded that “the proposal itself is not a renewable energy project”.
The proposal will be considered by HBC in early 2024. To find out more, search reference 23/1508/OUT on the Hertsmere planning portal.
HBC’s decision is expected in February.
Chiltern Green Energy has been contacted for comment.
Photo credit: Janet Engels