A NEW gas power station could built in the Oxfordshire countryside – but residents are worried it could send plumes of pollution across the countryside.

Power company Statera Energy wants to build the innovative new 12-acre plant on farmland south east of Rycote Lane, in Milton Common, to help the National Grid keep up with demand.

The gas-powered station, with 12m-high chimney flues, would be one of as many as 140 new 'flexible' power stations across the country planned for the next decade. 

Great Haseley Parish Council and residents have been angered by the proposal and want it stopped.

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The council claims it would be ‘detrimental to the area’ and its surroundings, which include Grade I and Grade II-listed buildings, including English Heritage’s Rycote Chapel, 1.4km from where the plant would be built.

In papers submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council, the parish council’s clerk Andrea Oughton states: “The application has attempted to show that the development will be all but invisible due to existing and proposal tree planting but the parish council believes that the development will be visible from Milton Common and possibly other buildings including the listed cow barn near the Rycote Lane Farm complex.

“Further, the council believes that the engines, their cooler arrays and the boiler plant associated with the gas supply and metering complex will generate visible plumes rising above tree cover.”

The most polluting powers plants across the country will be or are being replaced – but wind and solar energy is intermittent on certain days and during certain times of the year.

As a result other ‘flexible’ plants are being made to boost power supply whenever it is required, and the Oxfordshire plan could be one of them.

Statera Energy said the new breed of power stations will become increasingly common over the coming years.

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Most of the time, the station will not be needed. But the company said it is most likely to be required at night, during a ‘major power shortage or system stress event’.

It would take five minutes to go from being unused to being used at full power.

But the company said the impact on the countryside would be insignificant. It added that any impact of pollution from the plant would be ‘negligible’.

The power station would be made up of five 10 Megawatt engines in a building which would be about as high as a two-storey house.

Nearby Tetsworth Parish Council said it has ‘no objections’ to the plan because it is part of a national strategy.

In comparison to a traditional power station, the company said it would be of ‘small, compact’ design.

But a resident, Charles Dickson, said giving the ‘entirely inappropriate’ application permission would set a ‘bad precedent’.

He wrote: “It is a development in open countryside…there are far more suitable industrial locations for this throughout South Oxfordshire.”

Exhaust gases created by the engines would be ‘processed to meet stringent environmental standards before being vented out of five flues which will be up to 12m high,’ the company has said.

The complex might need as many as 40 people to work on its construction but once complete, it is not expected to require any more staff to run it. The station is expected to take about six months to build.

It would also be surrounded by a three-metre high fence topped with barbed wired around its perimeter. Security would be supplemented by a CCTV system.

In planning papers, Statera said up to 140 additional power plants, like the one planned for South Oxfordshire, will be needed over the next decade.

It states: “The UK electricity generation sector is going through a time of reform. The energy balance is becoming increasingly reliant on renewable energy sources which being weather dependent are intermittent and unpredictable.

"In tandem with this older nuclear and gas-fired power plants have closed. Currently nine per cent of our electricity is generated by coal but these coal-fired stations will have all closed in the next seven years."

The company adds: “Because demand has to be met increasingly with intermittent (and less reliable) wind, solar and interconnectors (that are not entirely in the UK’s control) there will be more times now and in the future when National Grid has to call on the older power stations and new flexible generators to respond quickly when there is insufficient generation to meet demand.”

South Oxfordshire District Council hopes a decision on whether permission is granted will be decided by mid-December.