U-turn over 'blot on landscape' scheme in Wrexham

Published date: 06 March 2014 |
Published by: Garth ApThomas 
Read more articles by Garth ApThomas  Email reporter


UNPOPULAR plans to litter colossal pylons across Wrexham’s countryside have been scrapped by a power station bid firm.

Wrexham Power Ltd, which wants to build a multi-million pound gas-fired power station on Wrexham Industrial Estate, was proposing to carry power from the plant to the National Grid's Legacy substation via overhead power lines.

Original plans included two possible routes for a series of 47m-tall pylons –  taller than St Giles Church – to run through either Marchwiel, Sontley and Cross Lanes or Bangor-on-Dee on the north bank of the River Dee.

But revised plans unveiled yesterday showed a drastically scaled-down plant with the overhead power line idea dropped completely.

The previous £800m budget for the power station is down to £300m, while the predicted power output has fallen from 1,200 megawatts to 299 megawatts.

Opposers to the plan said the revisions amounted to “a U-turn”.

When the plans were first unveiled, Wrexham Power said the station would create 50 highly skilled jobs – and building the plant would provide 1,200 construction jobs.

Yesterday bosses said the scaled-down 299 megawatt combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station will deliver all the benefits its initial proposals provided, particularly in terms of improved energy security for businesses on the industrial estate.

But it said the environmental and visual impacts of the proposals will be “substantially reduced”.

Bosses from the firm unveiled their revised plans to a closed meeting with Wrexham councillors on Tuesday, before publicising them yesterday.

A spokesman said the reduction of £500m in proposed costs could be attributed to less supporting infrastucture being required and the smaller power output.

A statement from the company said: “The refined proposals are the result of more than two-and-a-half years of detailed work by Wrexham Power Ltd and its project team, during which it has undertaken extensive environmental survey and design studies, as well as seeking the views of the community.

“We will soon be contacting all those who have previously registered an interest in the project to tell them more about the refined proposals.

“Consultation on the plans, as required under planning legislation, will take place during May and June this year and more information on this consultation will be provided shortly.”

Cllr David A Bithell, who represents Johnstown ward, said he welcomed the news and insisted the pylons would have “blighted” the landscape.

“This company tried to run roughshod over farm land without permission and I’m glad they are now trying to do things in a proper manner,” he said.

“Using the existing network is the right thing to do and our group will be monitoring progress on the scheme,” Cllr Bithell added.

Stephen Whitby, chairman of Wrexham Residents Against the Power Scheme (WRAPS), which have been verciferous in its opposition to the power station, said: “We have successfully demonstrated the original scheme was far too large, offering no local benefit, yet causing significant harm to the landscape.

“We have yet to see any detail of this new proposal, but with no new pylons proposed there will now be many relieved local residents.”

Wrexham Power added it could not give a definitive timescale over the application.

The statement said: “The informal and formal consultation periods are likely to take over a year.

“Then the time between submission of the application to determination will take at least 18 months. It will therefore be a number of years before any work could begin on site.”

The selected site for the energy centre is Kingmoor Park South on the industrial estate.

To export the power it generates, the power station will now require a connection to National Grid's Legacy substation, which will not be the earlier proposed overhead line.

The gas to fuel the power station would be provided through a connection to the national gas distribution network at the former Maelor gas works.

Wrexham Residents Against the Power Scheme chairman Mr Whitby, said the group would still be looking at a number of issues involved in the scheme, including:
l Reassurance the existing electrical distribution system is able to accommodate exported electricity.

l Details of what is proposed to enhance the area around the site for the benefit of residents of Isycoed, who are still faced with the prospect of a power station as a neighbour.

l Heat supply proposals in order to lower costs to businesses, achieve high efficiency in the burning of gas, make a significant reduction in emissions to the atmosphere

l Anticipating Wrexham Council securing the principles of meaningful economic benefits for local businesses.

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