'Everything we treasure is at risk, including humanity itself' warns MD behind electric vehicle charging station

And MP also supports plan as a "unique opportunity to work towards a cleaner future"

Friday, 7th May 2021, 4:40 pm
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 5:07 pm

A green energy scheme near Heath and Reach presents "a unique opportunity to work towards a cleaner future", according to the local MP.

Plans to build and operate an electric vehicle charging station and electric bus depot have been approved by Central Bedfordshire Council s development management committee.

The project at Garside Sands, Eastern Way, will enable Central Bedfordshire to lead in the delivery of green infrastructure, said South West Bedfordshire MP Andrew Selous.

Site plan

"It will help the local authority meet its own recently adopted sustainability plan targets and enable visitors to experience the efficiency of rapid charging facilities.

"This should address both travelling range anxiety and infrastructure issues."

The area is largely open countryside in the south Bedfordshire Green Belt with access from the A5, said a report to the committee.

Managing director of Checkley Wood Energy Limited Ian Foll described it as "an innovative project which is truly groundbreaking".

He said: "We'll take on site renewable energy from the wind and sun and run it though a very smart switch which will feed the power to a battery to charge the buses and cars and decarbonise the local grid.

"Every element of this project is smart and will be managed by artificial intelligence.

"We need unprecedented change in all aspects of society, in the words of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC).

"To achieve the latest government target, the UK will need to completely decarbonise the electricity network, remove all fossil fuels from heating and see a total conversion to electric vehicles.

"Everything we treasure is at risk, including humanity itself."

Heath and Reach Parish Council objects saying no exceptional circumstances have been shown to justify the use of this Green Belt land and that traffic management is inadequately explored.

There were 13 supportive comments with one noting: "This is a very forward looking local scheme of the sort we need to avoid the vast expense of upgrading the grid to bring power from long distances."

Three objections included the suggestion it should be located on new estates in Leighton Buzzard, while "approval on an inappropriate site might strengthen precedents for further phases of development".

Conservative Heath and Reach councillor Mark Versallion said: "It's helpful when there's an example to revisit the issue of the cumulative effect of allowing development in Green Belt.

"I'm not always against this, but the parish council's objections are quite a compelling articulation of this concern of residents I represent in rural communities, which they feel are under relentless pressure.

"If we were to take a strategic long-term view of where to put renewables and everything associated with them, arguably it wouldn't be put here in an area designated as Green Belt and protected."

Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey said: "Unfortunately with climate change we don't have long-term.

"We need to cut 78 per cent of our emissions at 1990 national levels by 2035. We've only done 40 per cent so far.

"We need to tackle transport because 39 per cent of our emissions in CBC come from that.

"The countryside of Heath and Reach is one of the most beautiful areas and the landscaping protects it."

Conservative Sandy councillor Caroline Maudlin said: "This is a fantastic project and I'm amazed we've got nine different species of bat there.

"I welcome the condition to ensure these bats and the ecological aspects are being looked after."

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Green light for ground-breaking electric vehicle charging station near Leighton ...