Drax owns and operates a portfolio of flexible, low carbon and renewable electricity generation assets across Britain. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire.
Keeping up with demand
To gain permission to modify up to two coal-fired generating units to gas, construct a new gas pipeline of approximately 3 km, and create up to two new battery storage facilities, Drax Power needed planning expertise to move through the complex Development Consent Order process for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs). Drax required a flexible consent for up to two new gas-fired generation units and with technology that could respond to peaks and troughs in electricity demand. The challenge was to design the scheme largely within the constraints of the existing power station complex, whilst re-purposing existing infrastructure.
Rapid, dynamic and integrated planning
With only a nine month programme to deliver the DCO application, we devised a dynamic planning strategy. Integrating our land referencing, engineering and EIA teams with our planning team meant we were able to rapidly identify and avoid or mitigate significant impacts, for example by re-routing a 3km pipeline to avoid potential harm to archaeological assets. This saved months on our programme. The land referencing team identified relevant land interests, whilst the EIA team identified the mitigation and enhancement measures needed to meet national policy requirements, such as appropriate landscaping and achievement of a net gain in biodiversity.
Low-carbon energy generation and biodiversity net gain
We prepared the DCO application efficiently in a tight programme whilst achieving biodiversity net gain, leaving habitats in a better state than before the start of the project. We have managed to make efficient use of land by placing most of the proposed infrastructure within or close to the existing power station complex, therefore minimising impacts on best and most versatile soils and reducing the need to acquire private land. Our work supports Drax Power in developing a scheme for much needed low-carbon electricity generation and network services whilst efficiently mitigating impacts on the environment.