Support for renewable energy battery storage project in Sompting

Councillors have explored the positives and negatives of a battery storage project and given it the thumbs-up.

Monday, 13th May 2019, 4:03 pm
Halewick Lane, Sompting (photo from Google Maps Street View)

The project, which will be built in Halewick Lane, Sompting, is expected to generate £29m for West Sussex County Council over the next 25 years.

The South Downs National Park Authority approved the plans in April and they were scrutinised by members of the environment, communities and fire select committee during a meeting at County Hall, Chichester.

So how will it work?

Put simply, second-hand electric car batteries will be slotted into storage containers at the site, which will be connected to the national grid.

The system will take electricity from the grid during cheap, off-peak times and store it in the batteries, returning it to the grid for a much higher price when demand is at its peak.

The meeting was told that the batteries would be able to store 20megawatts – 20million watts – of power and were expected to last seven years.

They could be slotted in and out of the containers as needed and those no longer in use would be returned to the supplier for recycling.

There was plenty of support for the project, but some concerns were raised about the impact of extra traffic on Halewick Lane while the site was being built.

Lt Col George Barton (Con, Sompting & North Lancing) said the timing of the demolition and building work needed to be right due to flooding issues along the lane.

Mr Barton described a ‘river of mud’ after a downpour carried contaminated soil from neighbouring fields into the lane and pointed out that nothing had ever been done to address the ongoing problem.

He also asked that lorries going to and from the site be limited to 20mph – but the lane is Crown land and does not fall under the county council’s control.

While supporting the project, Mr Barton said: “We’ve got the flood problem, we’ve got the lorry problem, we’ve got the contaminated soil problem.

“It will be hell for the people up there. It is a very long hill and when that water runs down there it doesn’t take an awful lot to make it a right mess.”

Roger Oakley (Con, Worthing East) agreed.

He said: “In the construction stage there is going to be a problem there.

“There is going to be the impact on the local community. It is going to degrade the quality of the road going to and from the site.

“What will be done to rectify it once the work is done?”

The Halewick Lane site has been unused since the mid-90s and it has cost the county council thousands in maintenance and repair work due to vandalism.

Last year alone, the bill came to £30,000.

The county already has a battery storage site alongside the Westhampnett solar farm.

The grid connection at the Halewick Lane site will be three times the size.

The capital expenditure for the project will be £11.55m.

David Barling (Con, Bramber Castle) said: “It sounds to me that this is a fantastic scheme which ticks every box and which this committee should strongly support.”