A plan for a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) was blocked by the council out of concern for its impact on the site in Westhoughton.

The applicant, Electric Land Ltd, applied for planning permission for the site on Slack Lane, to the north of the A6, almost two years ago.

Its plan for a BESS, which stores excess energy at times of decreased demand for electricity then sends it into the grid at times of increased demand for electricity, caused concern for its impact on the site in Westhoughton, which is designated as Other Protected Open Land. This is a level of protection higher than the protection afforded to most sites but lower than the protection afforded to other sites on Green Belt.

The Bolton News: The site on Slack Lane

Dozens of residents signed a petition against the proposal which was opposed by all of the area's councillors and the area's MP, Chris Green, for reasons ranging from the loss of open land to the likelihood of an explosion like one at a similar site in Liverpool in 2020.

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The Planning Committee was recommended to approve the application after reassurances regarding these issues from Electric Land Ltd.

However it was unanimous in blocking the application when it met at the town hall on February 1.

David Wilkinson, a councillor for Westhoughton South, said: "Most of the area around this site is terraces, there are no gardens and there is no public space, particularly between the A6 and the motorway. This has been used as a public space for decades either as it has been for the last 12 years or, previously, when there was a football field in the middle.

"It is one of those occasions where people in Westhoughton irrespective of politics, whether Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour or none, believe this site is important for people in Westhoughton and I believe it should be refused."

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David Grant, a councillor for Horwich South, said: "I think this is premature. I think the technology will overtake the need for this facility. 

"It will be destruction of Other Protected Open Land and I don't see any boost to biodiversity and as such I believe it should be refused."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email jack.tooth@newsquest.co.uk or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.