Welcome to the Blackdyke Farm Energy Storage System ‘ESS’ project website. We are proposing a 400 megawatt (MW) ESS to be located on land on Blackdyke Farm, Rockcliffe, Carlisle.
The development site covers approximately 21 acres which includes 15.5 acres of landscape, planting and biodiversity net gain. The site is bordered by the Harker Moss Local Nature Reserve to the south, the Harker substation to the south east and the M6 to the west.
The proposal would support the UKs transition to net zero and increased use of renewable energy through supporting the availability of energy to the National Grid. Renewable energy is characterised by its intermittent generation profile. For example, solar energy is produced during daylight hours, and wind generation fluctuates between seasons and during windy/less windy periods. Energy storage developments like the one proposed at Blackdyke Farm provide a solution to this, by storing electricity from the grid at times of peak generation and releasing electricity back into the grid at times of peak demand. The proposal would provide a significant amount of energy storage capacity which is needed to balance the supply and demand for energy in the UK. It also facilitates the continued deployment of renewable energy onto the electricity network.
The site has been carefully selected and designed through a detailed assessment process considering heritage, landscape, ecological and environmental designations, access, flooding, transport and agricultural land quality. We have engaged a team of expert consultants to provide advice on the project.
We submitted a planning application to Cumberland Council (Carlisle area) in June 2023 and are awaiting a decision which is expected towards the end of this year. The public access documents for the application can be viewed on the below link with the reference number 23/0444:
The site design is continually evolving and informed by detailed assessments, drawing upon the expertise of numerous specialist disciplines.
We submitted an application to Cumberland Council in June 2023 and are awaiting a decision from them.
The design includes two access points off the road to the north and east of the site. This allows suitable access to the substation and energy storage containers.
The site benefits from established hedgerows and established tree belts around the field boundaries. The proposal seeks to enhance this existing screening with additional planting of hedgerows and trees.
If approved, the development would have an operational period of 50 years, needing only occasional maintenance. At the end of this period the development would be decommissioned, all equipment removed, and the land restored to its current use.
The development would primarily consist of liquid cooled batteries, the size of a storage container.
Medium Voltage (MV) Skid
The MV Skid is required to convert the Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC) via an inverter.
The purpose of these transformers is to raise and lower the voltage for export and import to the National Grid.
The main substation contains the largest items of plant, consisting of a Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS) hall, transformers and filters. It has a footprint of approximately two acres.
Access tracks would be established across the site. During the construction phase a construction compound would be established in the vicinity of the site access off the A683.
A fence would be installed around the perimeter of the development at a height of approximately two metres. The site would be monitored by inward facing CCTV cameras.
Construction access is proposed at two points into the site, in the south east corner and on the north boundary.
We have undertaken an Abnormal Loads Assessment to confirm the construction vehicles can safely access the proposal. There would be minimal abnormal load movements to the site throughout the construction period, which would exit the M6 from the closed service road and travel left past the Harker Substation. This route would be agreed with National Highways North West and Cumbria Police. These bodies would also be informed of the time of delivery once this information is available.
Further details are provided within the submitted Construction Traffic Management Plan.
Once operational the site would be visited for occasional routine maintenance. Typically this would involve a light goods vehicle with one or two site operatives, who would access the site and carry out routine maintenance checks on the installed equipment. In the first five years post construction, there would also be regular visits by landscape contractors to monitor and manage completed landscape works like newly planted trees, during the initial establishment phase. There would also be occasional visits from our ecologists to monitor and manage new habitat creation.
Specialist Environmental Surveys
Our Planning application is supported by a number of technical assessments which are publicly available on the Council’s website, including:
Landscape & Visual: A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment has been submitted as part of the planning application. This is accompanied by proposed planting shown on the Landscape Masterplan.
Agricultural Land Quality: A site-specific agricultural land classification survey has been undertaken and confirmed that the site mainly comprises of Grade 3b agricultural land. There is approximately 1.7ha of Grade 3a agricultural land, however this is mainly located in the northern field which is not within the developable area. The Grade 3a land represents 2.1% of the total project area.
Cultural Heritage and Archaeology: We have undertaken a Historic Environment Desk-Based Assessment which considered the potential for any effects on heritage assets in the area, and the likelihood of encountering archaeological remains on the site. The assessment concluded the proposal would not lead to negative impacts on the nearest heritage assets, their settings or below ground heritage features.
Ecology: A suite of ecological surveys have been completed and submitted as part of the planning application. These are summarised in the Planning Statement.
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) Calculation: All our sites deliver BNG, and we will wherever possible exceed the statutory requirements set out for this. We are currently finalising our BNG calculations for the site and specific management and ecological mitigation measures. These will be confirmed and consulted on as part of the planning application process.
Flood Risk Assessment: The proposed equipment is located within Flood Zone 1, the area recognised by the Environment Agency as having the lowest probability of flooding. The northern field is included within the proposed development to ensure biodiversity net gain is delivered on-site. This is located in Flood Zones 2 and 3 and no equipment is proposed here.
Noise: The planning application is supported by a Noise Impact Assessment. The assessment found that there would be no significant increase in sound level by the proposed development.
Need for Energy Storage Developments
The UK has a legally binding target to achieve net-zero by 2050 and has committed to fully decarbonising the electricity network by 2035. This results in many low carbon and renewable developments being needed across the UK. Energy storage systems, like this proposal, are leading the way in balancing demand for electricity and providing flexibility to the supply of electricity in terms of where it can be stored on the network, and the times when it can be utilised. They are a crucial component of the delivery of net zero targets.
There will be a significant increase in demand for electricity in the coming years as more sectors (such as cars, heating, road fleet and trains) rely more extensively on electricity as a fuel source. The Future Energy Scenarios 2022 report (written by National Grid ESO) indicates that the UK will need more than 250GW of energy storage by 2050 and this proposal would add a significant amount of energy storage to this pipeline. In April 2022, Renewable UK reported that, nationwide, there was around 1.5GW of energy storage in operation, 1.5GW under construction, and 10GW that had consent, but had not yet been built. A significant increase is required in order to meet the projected requirements.
Renewable energy generation is intermittent and Energy Storage Systems help to balance this by storing electricity at times of low demand and releasing this at peak demand. Energy Storage allows us to make better use of our existing electricity supplies and for electricity generated from renewable energy sources to be fully utilised.
Key Benefits/ Benefits for the Local Community
We are seeking comments from the local community through this community consultation, in order to shape the proposal before we submit the planning application to Cumberland Council and see whether the proposal can provide any additional benefits to local residents.
Community benefit fund:
We put in place community and charitable benefit funds for all our projects. Once operational, the Blackdyke Farm Energy Storage Project would be able to make an annual community payment of £20,000 per year to fund local projects and programmes. A further £8,000 per year would be donated to charitable causes.
Engagement with Schools:
We often reach out to local schools, arranging participatory events to learn more about renewable energy and energy storage in the UK and would be looking at opportunities to do that here as well.
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