WEST Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) has submitted its objection to controversial plans to build a battery storage farm on the outskirts of Clydebank.

In February, we reported that the local authority had been given an extended deadline – from February 21 to May 15 – to confirm its stance on the proposed site at Whitehall Farm on Cochno Road.

Plans to build and operate a 560 megawatt (MW) battery energy storage system with associated equipment in this area – located within East Dunbartonshire - were submitted to the Scottish Government by green energy firm Apatura in November 2023.

Clydebank Post: Site mapSite map (Image: West Dunbartonshire Council)Following this a consultation was sent to WDC, as a neighbouring planning authority, by the Scottish Government Energy Consents Unit on behalf of the Scottish Ministers regarding the proposal titled ‘Whitehall BESS’.

At a special meeting of the council’s planning committee recently, members objected to the plans.

Documents published on the local authority’s website list various reasons for the objection stating that it “does not consider the benefits to outweigh any adverse impacts to West Dunbartonshire”.

These include concerns relating to the green belt location of the development, visual impact (industrialisation of a greenspace), impact on ecology, biodiversity, and protected species, the potential impact on the users of the core path network, potential impact on adjacent residential amenity, and the failure to provide a decommissioning and restoration scheme.

Speaking to the Post. Provost Douglas McAllister, who represents the Kilpatrick ward which lies on the local authority boundary, said residents had raised “significant” concerns and fears with him over this proposal.

He said: “We clearly expressed our view to the Scottish Ministers in advance of the deadline that we are objecting to the proposal.

“I objected for a number of reasons, but primarily because the location is unsuitable. Whilst it is appreciated that the site is actually in East Dunbartonshire, it is right on our boundary.

“The land at Whitehall Farm is at Cochno Road, the site is within the green belt, and will of course have an adverse impact on the residents of East Dunbartonshire but it will have a far more significant and lasting effect on the residents of West Dunbartonshire, and in particular the residents of Faifley and Hardgate.

“The residents of Faifley have significant concerns and fears over this proposal. It’s the sheer scale of the size.

“This would be perhaps the largest battery energy storage system of its kind anywhere in Europe dropped onto the green belt on our hills above Faifley and Hardgate.

“It is quite simply the wrong location, the wrong place. Therefore it is right that we as a council object to the proposal and do everything we can to protect the green belt enjoyed by generations before us. We have a duty to insist that Scottish Ministers refuse this application and protect this location for generations who come after us.”

What are the plans?

Apatura proposes creating a 560MW lithium battery energy storage system with associated equipment on around 29 hectares of land (this is the site size listed in documents published by WDC) within the green belt in East Dunbartonshire.

The company say this location was chosen due to its proximity to the appropriate grid connections.

Associated equipment includes a substation, security fencing, CCTV, security lighting, and landscaping.

The development would comprise 224 standard metal shipping containers (which are said to be soundproof) which along with the other equipment will be placed on top of concrete plinths.

The renewable enterprise states the concrete would be installed in such a way that it can be removed at the end of the development’s life cycle – around 40 years – to return the land for agricultural use.

Underground cables would connect the facility to the grid which is located off-site at Drumchapel and at Windyhill substations.

What is a battery energy storage system?

These sites take in generated electricity when there is a surplus and store it until there is a demand for electricity which can then be released to meet this demand.

Documents add that whilst WDC considers that the proposal could support the aims of the National Planning Framework 4 to achieve net zero targets in Scotland and provide a stable domestic energy supply, it must be ensured that such a development happens in the right place.

As well as objecting to the plans members of the council’s planning committee also agreed to request that Scottish Ministers carry out a public inquiry in Clydebank prior to making a decision.

Apatura has been contacted for comment.