A DECISION to let a gas power station be built on green belt land has led to anger and cries of hypocrisy.

Permission for the power station was granted by South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee at its meeting last Wednesday night.

The nine councillors on the committee voted four-to-three in favour of the application, which will see a ‘peaking’ power plant built on land north of London Road, Wheatley, behind the farm shop.

Also read: Police want to find man who helped woman after Leys assault

Wheatley resident and Conservative parish councillor Toby Newman, who objected to the power station, was outraged it had been given planning permission.

Mr Newman said: “It is completely contrary to what the parish council and the local people wanted. In my mind it is an absolute disgrace.”

He added there were local concerns about the fact that a fossil fuel-burning power station was being given permission after SODC had declared a 'climate emergency'.

Oxford Mail:

A design drawing of the gas power plant. Picture: Balance Power via SODC.

Mr Newman also said residents had concerns about noise from the new plant and contested that its 25-year lifespan was considered 'temporary'.

Also objecting to the plan was Wheatley’s Lib Dem district councillor Alexandrine Kantor, who temporarily stepped down from her seat on the planning committee to speak against it.

Ms Kantor acknowledged the power station would help to generate extra energy for peak times on the national grid, but said the application was not right for Wheatley.

Also read: Serial paedophile caught with images of babies being abused is jailed

She told the committee on Wednesday night: “This should not happen in Wheatley. We do not have a large-scale renewable power plant locally and it is located in the green belt.

“This application should even not be before you.

“This is nothing else than a commercial opportunity.”

Following the decision to approve the power station, there was criticism from SODC’s Conservative group, who said it was hypocritical for a Lib Dem and Green-led council focussed on green issues to have approved a fossil fuel power plant on green belt land.

Conservative group leader Jane Murphy said: “I was surprised to see the Greens and Lib Dems on the planning committee proposing and supporting an application to build a fossil-fuelled power plant in the green belt.

“They shout a lot about their support for the green belt, but when it came to it, they proved the green belt is not safe in their hands.”

Planning committee members of different political stripes said the decision was not made along party lines.

Lib Dem committee member David Bretherton said: “Planning is not political. I personally voted against it. My personal issue is that it is in green belt and we should not be building in the green belt.”

The Conservative chairman of the committee, Ian Snowdon, also said planning was apolitical and the decision had split councillors along their personal judgement, not their party alliances.

He added: “I was impressed by the councillors’ level of questioning of different officers, and the applicant. I think it was properly discussed.”

Oxford Mail:

Picture: Google Maps.

The company behind the power station is called Balance Power and specialises in building small gas-based power plants 'to help meet extra demand on the national grid'.

The power station will consist of four generators, as well as a series of rooms to manage the power supply from them.

They will be built on a one-acre site which lies within an area designated as flood zone 2 land, an area classed by the Environment Agency as having a one per cent chance of flooding during a year.

Also read: Motorcyclist dies after metal barrier crash in Littlemore

In a report to the planning committee a council planning officer Sharon Crawford recommended the gas power station should be approved.

Her report said: “I recommend that planning permission is granted because the harm to the green belt by reason of inappropriateness is outweighed by very special circumstances primarily because it directly helps to address climate change by providing alternative power facilities.”

For more information visit the South Oxfordshire District Council website and search planning reference P19/S3220/FUL