Ballylumford substation demolition and replacement project approved by council

Outline planning permission has been approved by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee for the demolition and replacement of a substation at Ballylumford Power Station in Islandmagee.

Senior planning officer Denise Kerr told the committee meeting at The Braid in Ballymena on Thursday morning the site is within the power station which is located at the entrance to Larne Lough, a designated European site.

“The proposed substation is a replacement of an existing building within a larger complex. It is an important infrastructure within the electricity transmission network in Northern Ireland,” she stated.

The officer noted the natural gas-fired power station, with chimney stacks 126 metres high, dates back to the Sixties.

Ballylumford Power Station
Ballylumford Power Station
Ballylumford Power Station

She went on to say that the existing substation can be seen from railway line halts at Glynn and Magheramorne.

She indicated the new structure would be located beside the existing substation building to facilitate transfer of equipment before demolition of the latter.

“It is unlikely there would be any substantial impact on dwellings in the vicinity or surrounding area and it is a necessary infrastructure for the electricity network,” she added.

A report to the committee notes that Northern Ireland is “connected to the British natural gas supply system via an underground pipeline from Stranraer to Islandmagee”.

Planning consultant Alastair McKinley told the meeting Ballylumford Power Station is a “critical node” in the electricity network and Moyle Interconnector which is located off Ballylumford Road. It is the main electricity connection to Scotland.

He noted that some of the equipment is 40 years old and needs to be replaced and the development of a gas substation is “considered to be a preferable option in cost and technological terms”.

He went on to say that NIE Networks needs to appoint a contractor and to approve the application would “enable NIE to maintain supply”.

Noise Query

Larne Lough DUP Alderman Paul Reid said that the council’s environmental health department has “raised a query about noise”. “I am very conscious of a problem with noise before.”

He was advised the application is just at the outline planning stage. The officer pointed out that the environmental health department is “satisfied with up-to-date reports that there would not be any significant adverse impacts”.

Ald Reid said he was “happy to propose with those reassurances”. Larne Lough Alliance Cllr Robert Logan said he was “happy to second”,

Braid Ulster Unionst Cllr Robin Cherry MBE asked if the new equipment would be able to work with hydrogen.

Kyle McMullan, of NIE Networks, indicated that the company is currently at a stage of appointing a contractor. He explained the final decision of the type of gas has to be confirmed and the type of gas and equipment will be decided by technical needs and will be for a “design life of 40 years”.

The application was approved unanimously.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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