Proposal to build a gas-fired power station
Abergelli Power Limited (APL), a subsidiary business of Drax Group, wishes to build a gas-fired power station on land located at Abergelli Farm, south of Felindre, adjacent to the National Grid Gas Compressor Station and to the north of the M4 motorway.
The project includes a power generation plant and its electrical and gas connections. The project would have a rated electrical output of up to 299MW. The power generation plant is designed to provide back-up generation capacity which can operate flexibly to respond quickly and efficiently to both short-term variation in customer demand and intermittent output from renewable power generation. It is anticipated that it will operate for around 1500 hours per year.
The project has been approved by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Subject to a capacity market contract, Abergelli Power Station could be operational subject to capacity market contracts in the early-to-mid 2020s.
The Abergelli Power project would be situated on land in the northern part of the City and County of Swansea, approximately 1 km southeast of Felindre, 760 m west of Llwyncelyn and 1.4 km north of Llangyfelach. The proposed project site (grid ref. 265284, 201431) is located within fields used for grazing, bounded by a mixture of drainage ditches, fencing and defunct hedgerows.
There is a large amount of utilities infrastructure in the area. Gas and water pipelines cross the Project site and there is also a network of electricity pylons in the wider area.
Key details about the Project
The main elements of the proposed Project would comprise:
- A new Open Cycle Gas Turbine (OCGT) power peaking plant, also known as a Simple Cycle Gas Turbine, designed to provide up to 299 Megawatts (MW) of electricity.
- The construction of a new underground pipeline to bring natural gas to the power generation plant from the existing National Gas Transmission System located nearby;
- The construction of a new underground electrical connection to export electricity from the power generation plant to the existing Swansea North electricity substation located nearby.
On 25 May 2018, an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. The application was accepted for examination on 21 June 2018 and an independent Examination of the application began with the preliminary meeting on 10 October 2018.
Early in the Examination stage, interested parties who registered by making a relevant representation were invited to provide more details of their views in writing and attend issue-specific public hearings.
The Planning Inspectorate concluded the Examination in spring 2019 and on the 19 September 2019 the application was approved by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Planning & consultation
Public consultation is an integral part of the planning process and has been an important element of Abergelli Power’s work since the project was first announced in 2014. The project’s consultations with the local community, local politicians, groups and other relevant organisations, were designed to meet all legal requirements and based on a range of advice and guidance.
Extensive consultation activity was undertaken in 2014, and building on this work, an additional phase of statutory consultation commenced in early 2018 in the run up to the planning submission.
There have been several opportunities to consider and comment on the project.
Phase 1 Consultation (2014)
Non-Statutory Consultation started in June 2014 and included three exhibitions held locally to introduce the project to people living in close proximity to it. This was followed by a period of Statutory Consultation in October/November 2014, during which public exhibitions were held in Clydach, Llangyfelach, Tircoed and Felindre, along with meetings with local community councils and councillors from City and County of Swansea Council.
Phase 2 Consultation (2018)
Asecond period of Statutory Consultation was carried out between 16 January and 19 February 2018. Public exhibitions were again held in Clydach, Llangyfelach, Tircoed and Felindre to update people living in close proximity to the project and introduce it to anyone who did not participate in the 2014 consultation. During Phase 2 Consultation meetings were held with various local representatives, statutory consultees and other stakeholders – these meetings constituted both statutory and non-statutory consultation.
Statements of Community Consultation
The project’s 2014 SoCC was agreed with City and County of Swansea Council and a revised Statement of Community Consultation for 2018 was also agreed with the local council.
Both the 2014 and 2018 SoCCs were published in the local press and made available via this website. The SOCC and other information about the project were also made available at local libraries during both phases of consultation.
Full details of the consultation are contained within the Consultation Report that was submitted with the application and can be found on the Planning Inspectorate’s (PINS) website.
Abergelli Power is a power generation project that can help support the UK’s future energy security and ensure that the country meets its low carbon emission targets. All efforts will be made to ensure minimum impact on the environment during its construction and operation.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the proposed developmenthas been submitted as part of the suite of documents that accompanied the application for development consent. The EIA examines likely significant environmental effects of the Abergelli Power project. Issues such as noise, air emissions, ecology, visual impact, archaeology and traffic and transport are considered. Under the EIA Regulations, a draft Environmental Statement (ES) was made available for the 2018 consultation process.
The EIA forms a central part of the application for development consent and will inform the Planning Inspectorate’s recommendation and the Secretary of State’s decision.
The Abergelli Power project can bring a range of benefits to the area during both construction and operation. Construction will take around two years and will support up to 150 jobs.
The power plant is expected to have an operational life of at least 25 years. This investment will support indirect jobs in the local community in areas such as facility maintenance and other support services.
Local businesses and individuals with an interest in working at the plant either during its construction or operation that would like to be kept informed of developments with the project are invited to contact Abergelli Power via the ‘Contact Us’ page.
19 September 2019 - New rapid response gas power station approved in Abergelli
11 April 2019 - Abergelli OCGT Project Examination formally closes
26 February 2019 - Environmental Permit issued for Abergelli Power
21 December 2018 - Abergelli Power DCO Examination Hearings
12 October 2018 - Examination Process Starts
21 June 2018 - Application for £80-90m gas fired power station accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate
21 June 2018 - Development Consent Order acceptance
29 May 2018 - Application for Development Consent Order submitted to the Planning Inspectorate
2 January 2018 - Local people to be consulted on plans for gas-fired power station
30 March 2015 - Submission of DCO Application Deferred
19 September 2018 - Abergelli Power DCO Examination First Issue Specific Hearing Notice
6 August 2018 - Town and Country Planning Application documents
21 June 2018 - Development Consent Order Documents
12 February 2018 - Public exhibition boards - overview of project
12 February 2018 - Public exhibition boards
29 January 2018 - Online feedback form
16 January 2018 - Preliminary Environmental Information Report
16 January 2018 - Non-Technical Summary (English)
16 January 2018 - No Significant Effects Report
12 January 2018 - Abergelli Power consultation leaflet
2 January 2018 - Statement of community consultation
2 January 2018 - Statement of community consultation notice
2 January 2018 - Summary of 2014 consultation activities
10 October 2014 - Abergelli Power Project preliminary environmental information report
10 October 2014 - Abergelli Power Project preliminary environmental information report non-technical Summary
10 October 2014 - Abergelli Power Project preliminary environmental information report appendices
10 October 2014 - Preliminary environmental report figures
30 September 2014 - Abergelli Power Project statement of community consultation
30 September 2014 - Prosiect Abergelli Power Fferm Abergelli, Felindre, Abertawe Datganiad ynghylch ymgynghori â' r gymuned
01 August 2014 - Scoping opinion proposed Abergelli Power Project
26 June 2014 - Abergelli Power Project applicant’s scoping report
Q1. Why are you proposing to build a gas-fired power station at Abergelli Farm?
A1. After various studies across the country over a multi-year period, we consider Abergelli Farm to be an ideal site. It has two key advantages:
- Close proximity to the national gas and electricity distribution networks.
- Located in National Grid’s strategic area for new electricity generation – which is due to the growth in electricity demand in the region.
Q2. What is proposed?
A2. We are proposing a gas-fired power station that will produce electricity from natural gas – designed as a ‘peaking plant’ and would operate for up to a maximum of 2,250 hours in any given year, provided that the five-year rolling average does not exceed 1,500 hours per year.
The proposals include:
- A Power Generation Plant with a rated electrical output of up to 299 MW. The plant will have one stack of up to 45 metres in height, which is approximately the same height as the nearby transmission towers;
- An Access Road to the Project Site, formed by extending an existing access road from the B4489;
- Provision of a Laydown Area for temporary use during construction, and a permanent Maintenance Compound; and
- A new underground electrical connection (up to 1km in length) to the nearby National Grid Transmission System and the construction of a new underground pipeline (up to 1.4km in length) to bring natural gas to the Power Generation Plant from the National Gas Transmission System.
The power station has an anticipated lifespan of 25 years.
Q3. Why was the project put on hold in 2014 and re-started in 2017?
A3. The project was initially taken through the first stages of the Development Consent Order (DCO) application process in 2014, when the community and stakeholders were consulted on the proposal. However, in March 2015 the project was put on hold due to market uncertainty.
There however remains a need for new gas-fired power stations to be built in this country and, acknowledging this national need, UK energy company Drax Group plc acquired the APL project in 2016.
Q4. What steps will you take to preserve the local environment?
A4. Every effort will be made to minimise the project’s impact on the local environment, both during its construction and operation. Its design and the steps to mitigate its impacts, such as screening and landscaping, is a part of the consultation and planning process.
We have reduced the number of exhaust gas flue stacks from five to one, which will reduce the project’s visual impact. We have also selected an access route from the B4489, which will lessen the impact on local roads.
Q5. Has Abergelli Power Ltd built a gas-fired power station elsewhere?
A5. Abergelli Power Ltd is the name of the project company. It is owned by Drax Group plc, one of the UK’s leading energy companies which owns and operates four gas-fired power stations in England. Drax Group supports 17,500 UK jobs and has an economic footprint of £1.65bn. As well as operating gas plant, Drax is the UK’s largest generator of renewable power via its hydro and biomass assets. Drax can generate enough electricity to power 8.3 million homes. The company is developing three other rapid-response gas power plant projects in England and Wales, two of which have already secured planning consent and are moving forward to the engineering and construction phase.
Q6. Why is the Power Station only proposed as a ‘peaking plant’?
A6. The UK generation mix is changing rapidly and the requirement for large amounts of highly flexible, dependable peaking plants like Abergelli Power Station fully support the UKs transition to a low carbon economy.
The Abergelli Power Station is designed to run over short periods of time to provide back-up power at times of stress on the electricity network. We have carefully considered the economics of the plant’s operation and believe that this is a viable project that will provide a valuable contribution to the UK’s energy needs.
Q7. What will be the impact of the project on local traffic?
A7. There will be HGV traffic during the two-year construction phase but it would be routed to minimise congestion, noise and dirt in the local area. Following consultation in 2014, the decision was taken to select a route to site from the B4489. Access to the power station will be formed by upgrading an existing access road between the B4489 junction and the Swansea North Substation and constructing a new Access Road from the substation to the site. Once operational, there will be a negligible increase in traffic movements, principally station employees (up to 15 people) travelling to and from work. There will be HGV traffic during the two-year construction phase but it would be routed to minimise congestion, noise and dirt in the local area. Following consultation in 2014, the decision was taken to select a route to site from the B4489. Access to the power station will be formed by upgrading an existing access road between the B4489 junction and the Swansea North Substation and constructing a new Access Road from the substation to the site. Once operational, there will be a negligible increase in traffic movements, associated with maintenance activitities on and around the site.
Q8. How noisy will the power station be?
A8. Whilst local residents should not hear the plant running (and it will run mostly in winter when people’s door and windows are closed), the noise produced during operation of the power plant will be strictly limited by the requirements of the Development Consent Order (similar to planning conditions), which will be enforced by the local authority and limits set by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
Noise modelling has been undertaken to ascertain the current background noise levels and the typical noise levels from a gas fired plant have been modelled on top to determine the likely impacts. The results of these assessments are reported in the Preliminary Environmental Information Report and no significant effects are anticipated at this stage.
Q9. Will there be any emissions from the power station?
A9. A plume consisting mainly of water vapour may be visible from the stack of the power station but only under certain atmospheric conditions (cold and dry with high pressure); this is not ‘smoke’. The emissions from the stack will not have any significant effect on people in the local area and will be strictly limited by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) which issued Abergelli Power with a an operational environmental permit in January 2019.
The stack will also emit some carbon dioxide (CO2). However, Abergelli Power Station is only expected to run up to a maximum of 2,250 hours in any given year, provided that the five-year rolling average does not exceed 1,500 hours. This would be at times when lower carbon forms of power generation are not available due to intermittency or high demand, such as when there is not enough wind, sun, at peak times or on very cold days.
Planning and consultation
Q1.Who will decide whether the Abergelli Power Station should be built?
A1. As the project with generate up to 299 MW of electricity, it is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) under the Planning Act 2008, which means that a Development Consent Order (DCO) is required to construct, operate and maintain it. A DCO application was submitted to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (the “Secretary of State”) via the Planning Inspectorate. The proposals were examined by an Examining Authority (appointed by the Secretary of State), who made a recommendation for decision by the Secretary of State. Subject to a capacity market contract, the Abergelli Power OCGT project has been approved by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to go into operation in late 2022. Swansea Council was a key consultee in the planning and consultation process, along with the community councils in the vicinity and other local organisations.
For generating stations in Wales that are below 350MW generating capacity, the Planning Act 2008 restricts what can be applied for through the DCO process to development that is integral to and forms part of the NSIP. The Power Generation Plant, the Laydown Area/Maintenance Compound and the Access Road will therefore be applied for through the DCO process.
Separate applications to construct and operate the gas or electrical connections were submitted to Swansea Council in July 2018. Swansea Council approved the gas and grid connection applications on the 6 December 2018. However, if compulsory acquisition for the land and rights are needed to enable us to construct, operate and maintain the gas and electrical connections, these will be included within the DCO application.
Q2.How did the consultation in 2014 influence the current proposals?
A2. Following feedback received during consultation in 2014, a number of changes were made, which includes:
- Reducing the number of stacks from a maximum of five to one; and
- Selecting an access route from the B4489 to the west of the Generating Equipment instead of the access route from the north.
Q3.Has an Environmental Impact Assessment been carried out?
A4. An Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was undertaken in 2014 to assess the likely significant environmental effects of the Abergelli Power project and further work on this has been carried out during 2017. The EIA process considers a range of issues including noise, air emissions, ecology, landscape and visual effect, historic environment and transport. The EIA forms a central part of the planning application and must comply with national and local policies and guidelines. Following the Preliminary Environmental Information Report, published during the consultation, a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was prepared and submitted in to the Planning Inspectorate for examination.
Q4.When could you expect to start construction and operation for Abergelli Power Station?
A5. The project will take about two years to build after receipt of a contract at a future Capacity Market auction.
Q1. How will the power station benefit the local area?
A1. The project can bring a range of benefits to the area during both the construction and operational phases. It will create supply chain opportunities including approximately 150 jobs during a construction period lasting two years. Up to 15 people will be required to support the management and maintenance of the plant. In addition, the facility will contribute to business rates and be an active participant in the local community. A detailed socio-economic impact study is being prepared as part of the Environmental Statement.
Q2. Will you be creating a benefit fund to support local community projects?
A2. We are committed to providing community benefits through the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, provision of skills and training opportunities through our supply chain and supporting a low carbon economy. We will continue to engage with City and County of Swansea Council to discuss options for delivering these through the existing Beyond Bricks and Mortar Scheme.
Q1.Why do we need new gas-fired power stations?
A1. Gas-fired power generation is affordable, reliable and flexible. New gas power projects are acknowledged by the Government as being essential to a lower-carbon economy, as an alternative to coal, and the construction and operation of rapid-response Open Cycle Gas Turbine (OCGT) plants by Drax Group are part of a strategy to support an electricity system that has an increasing amount of less flexible, low carbon and renewable energy technologies. Many ageing coal, gas and nuclear power stations are closing down and new thermal power generation capacity is needed to help the country retain its energy security.
Gas peaking plants such as Abergelli Power are designed specifically to provide essential back-up power generation to increasing amounts of intermittent renewable technologies such as wind turbines and solar farms.
New gas generation is part of a transition from more polluting fossil fuels of the past such as diesel, oil and coal to a low carbon economy driven by renewables, storage, demand side response and other low carbon technologies.
Q2.How often will the power station operate? Will you ever consider extending the operating hours in the future?
A2. We plan to use Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs) to plug the energy gaps – essentially flicking the switch on and off at very short notice – from cold to full power in just 20 minutes. We anticipate they would run up to a maximum of 2,250 hours in any given year, provided that the five-year rolling average does not exceed 1,500 hours (approximately 17% of the year). The plant is only expected to operate at times of peak system demand on days when renewable output is low. Peak demand in the UK usually occurs in the winter months between the hours of 4 – 7 pm on Mondays – Fridays.
Q3.What about safety of the power project?
A3. Gas-fired power stations in this country have an excellent safety record, and we do not consider there to be any issues of concern with our site and the neighbouring energy facilities. Drax Power Station, Abergelli Power owner’s, existing power plant has a better-than-average safety record among other coal, gas and biomass power stations.
Q4.Why an Open Cycle Gas Turbine (OCGT) rather than a Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT)?
A4. Whilst OCGTs are less efficient than CCGTs, there are a number of reasons as to why they remain the preferred technology choice for peaking plant.
- Flexibility – OCGTs have start-up and shut-down times of less than 20 minutes where other power generation technologies take much longer to become fully operational at maximum capacity from cold. Peaking plant such as OCGTs are required to come online very quickly in response to sudden changes in demand or outages of other plant. They are also suited to flexing their output up and down in a matter of seconds, which helps National Grid ensure the smooth running of the energy grid. There is also no limit to the number of start/stops a well-maintained OCGT can achieve over its lifetime.
- Environmental Impact – visual/land take. OCGT plants are more compact so reduces the amount of land required and they have shorter stacks because exhaust gasses are hotter. These factors reduce the environmental impact of such plants.
- Environmental Impact – water consumption. OCGTs do not consume considerable amounts of water in normal operation. This is important in areas where water is scarce.
Financial – losses in efficiency are far outweighed by the much cheaper build cost of OCGT when compared to CCGT and also because of the low number of hours they will be operational.
Q5. How can you be certain that you have enough natural gas? Isn’t it inherently risky importing gas from Russia and other highly politically-sensitive areas?
A5. Drax buys gas from the UK market – the National Balancing Point (NBP). We would expect this to come from the North Sea, a number of different European countries, the Middle East and further afield. Given this diversity of sources, we are confident that we will maintain a secure supply of gas.