Without using carbon capture and storage, the project by IGas plc aims to convert gas taken from the Albury Park wellsite in Guildford into grey hydrogen.
The plan will be discussed by county council members during a meeting the following week. Planners’ 80-page report advised against accepting. The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which lies under the green belt, and ancient woodland surround the Albury Park property (AONB). Also, it is a part of a grade 1 registered park and a location important for lichen protection.
A similar request by IGas at its Bletchingley plant was unanimously rejected by Surrey’s planning committee in October of last year. Planners had also advised against approving that application. Currently, a pipeline is used to export Waste gas to the network for use in an on-site electricity generation. IGas is currently looking to install a steam methane reformation (SMR) unit to transport up to 1000 kg of hydrogen daily.
The hydrogen generator unit, according to IGas, will be 16.5m long, 3m broad, up to 7.6m high, and have a 10.9m-long exhaust flue. The dimensions of the transport unit are 12.2 m long, 2.4 m wide, and 2.6 m high. The planning committee has been waiting 19 months to hear the application. The Albury proposals, according to the planners, would significantly alter the Surrey Hills AONB.
Unless there are special circumstances and the proposal is in the public interest, large development should be rejected, according to planning law. According to IGas, the Albury plan would prevent 2,769 tonnes of CO2-eq from being released into the atmosphere each year. The Greener Futures Team (GFT) of Surrey County Council, however, stated that the proposal should be rejected since it would produce a considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions without carbon capture.
The IGas figure does not include production emissions, according to a GFT analysis. According to the analysis, the plan would produce 57,554 tonnes of CO2-equivalent throughout its lifetime if they were incorporated. According to the paper, the proposed SMR unit would produce 3,688 tonnes CO2-equivalent of hydrogen each year. This would result in 0.056% of emissions for Surrey and 0.46% of emissions for the Guildford borough.
The planners concurred that the “ever-growing fuel cell market” would benefit from the creation of hydrogen. But, it claimed that IGas “failed to establish that the Guildford Borough market/economy would benefit.” According to the research, the nearby old woodland’s lichen ecosystems will likely be significantly impacted by emissions from the SMR flue. According to national and local planning policy, IGas had to show that the lichen will be safeguarded.
According to the planners, 161 letters of opposition to the application and one letter of support were received. The Woodland Trust, Surrey Wildlife Trust, British Lichen Society, Preserve Surrey Countryside, and the Weald Action Group were among the opponents. There were protests about noise, light pollution, traffic, and the effect on surrounding neighbours, in addition to worries about the green belt, AONB, carbon emissions, and lichens.