No objection to new Battery Energy Storage System despite ‘blot on the landscape’ claim

Monday March 25th 2024


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

Members of Scottish Borders Council planning committee have agreed not to object to a new Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) near to a Berwickshire village – despite acceptance that such installations represent a “blot on the landscape”.

Scottish Borders Council was asked whether it wanted to object to the application for construction of a BESS on land west of the Eccles Substation in Mid-Berwickshire, with the ultimate say on its go-ahead with the Governments’s Energy Consent Unit (ECU).

Members of the Planning and Building Standards Committee agreed today not to oppose the plan but concerns were raised over the impact of such developments on the Berwickshire communities.

Land around the Eccles substation has recently attracted other BESS developments and the Eccles substation also received planning approval for an extension so it can accommodate increased electricity demands.

The latest development will not generate electricity, instead, it provides a location where it can be imported, stored and exported to meet the demands of the electricity grid network.

Mid-Berwickshire’s SNP councillor Donald Moffat agreed not to object but called for an effective transport management scheme and better screening at the site, including more bunding.

He said: “The local community council hasn’t went against this site and they haven’t went against any of the other sites that we have had so far.

“There is a massive campaign locally against any more sites, and I’m not overstating that. There have been meetings with 70 or 80 people at them so there is an acceptance that they are doing their bit by what we have got so far. The local people have been reasonable to this point but I don’t think they’ll accept much more.”

Tweeddale East’s SNP’s councillor Marshall Douglas added: “We obviously need these installations given the energy crisis and the move to Net Zero. However, you can’t help feeling that in that part of Berwickshire it is very much a blot on the landscape and really to what degree do we allow this to continue?

“The problem with this is that we are getting individual applications without noticing the cumulative effect of what is happening. On balance I do think officers have it right on this one but I do have concerns about the future going forward and the congregation of all these facilities within one area.”

A report, to be presented to members, said: “The development would contribute towards meeting Scottish Government national energy targets and the transition towards net zero.

“The proposal would result in some minor landscape and visual impacts, but these will be localised and will not result in unacceptable adverse impacts, subject to suitable landscaping/boundary treatments and agreement of the final appearance of the equipment.”

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