Assessment says increased output from power station will have ‘negligible’ impact on air quality

Little Barford power station in 2006 (photo: Wikipedia)

Increasing the output from the power station at Little Barford will have a “negligible” impact on air quality, an assessment has claimed.

The combined cycle gas turbine power plant will be able to increase its output by up to 10 per cent after consent was given by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Based on the site of a former coal-fired power plant on the Cambridgeshire/Bedfordshire border, the power station began operation in 1996, and is run by the German multinational energy company RWE AG.

Last year, RWE submitted an application to increase the permitted electrical output of the operational generating station from “about 680 MW capacity” to “up to 750MW capacity”.

A letter from BEIS’s head of energy infrastructure planning delivery to RWE dated June 23, 2022 said that Bedford Borough Council did not reply to the consultation.

However, the council had previously responded to the Applicant’s request for a screening opinion by stating that “the Environmental Health Service has reviewed the above application and has no objection to the application.”

Before a planning application is submitted, applicants can apply for a Screening Opinion Request to see if their planned development is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

This is to identify projects that might have significant effects on the environment.

A Screening Request for this application concluded that the increase in power is predicted to increase the rate of emissions and the volumetric flow, and so increase the plume rise.

An air quality assessment said the end result of these two conflicting effects is a “very small” change in air quality, which can be considered to be “negligible”.

The validity of the Secretary of State’s decision may be challenged by making an application to the High Court for leave to seek a judicial review.

The letter in full, and supplementary information, can be found on the BEIS website.

Bedford Borough Council and RWE were approached for a comment. The council said that this was not in its remit.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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