Concerns over electricity substation metres from woman's bedroom

A controversial housing estate approved on appeal has taken a step closer to being built despite pleas to delay the scheme over an electricity substation metres from a villager’s bedroom. David Wilson Homes was given permission by the planning inspector in 2022 to build 170 homes on land east of Cossington Road in Sileby.

Charnwood Borough Council initially refused the plan, over fears it would merge the village with neighbouring Cossington, but that decision was later overturned. On Thursday, the council’s plans committee voted to approve further details of the scheme, including the layout and appearance of the homes, as well as almost three acres of open space.

But a current resident of Sileby, Linda Jones, told councillors of her fears over an electricity substation originally planned to be included in the area of open space, but now moved to a site seven metres away from the window of her bedroom in her 1930s dormer bungalow. Calling for the decision to be deferred in the hope discussions could take place to convince the developer to move the substation, she said: "Our only opening window in our main bedroom is directly overlooking and in line with the substation. It is accepted that transformer noise is most noticeable at night. We are very concerned that our quality of life and living conditions will be adversely affected as the substation is unacceptably close to our property.”

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She was joined in calling for a deferral by ward councillor Naomi Bottomley, who wanted the substation to be relocated but also had concerns over flood risk and asked for "a legally enforceable agreement about ongoing maintenance" to be decided before councillors considered the application again.

Sileby Parish Councillor Elizabeth Jones quoted guidance from the National Grid’s website on health effects of substations, which read that "in rare, exceptional cases the electromagnetic field may extend to about 15m". She pointed out that both Linda Jones’s home and plot 1 of the new development would be "well within the range of the detectable magnetic field" about which there were "concerns about health issues".

Speaking on behalf of David Wilson homes, Helen Burford said: “The substation will be enclosed with a brick building and screened by planting to act as noise mitigation.” She added that there would be a "46 per cent biodiversity net gain" as a result of the scheme.

Addressing flooding concerns, Ms Burford said: “We understand that drainage is the principal concern. The drainage and water authorities raise no objections to the reserved matters.”

Council planning officer Susan Garbutt said environmental health officers found the location of the substation was "appropriate", but added a condition about noise mitigation measures. She said the substation site had been moved because buildings were not allowed in the areas of open space. She also said details of flood risk mitigation would be "submitted and approved" in a further application from the developer before development could start.

Councillor Chris O’Neill said: “I think it’s fair to say the effects of electromagnetic radiation on living tissue are not fully understood. If the environmental health officers says it’s okay, I guess we need to defer to that, but personally I have my doubts about it.”

However, Councillor Hilary Fryer said she had confidence in the work put in on the scheme by the authority's planning and environmental health officers and saw "no reason at this stage, with the conditions in place, to refuse this application or defer it".

There had been 55 objections from members of the public to this latest stage of the planning application, with numerous concerns, including changes to the number 2 bus route serving the village. The application was passed with 12 votes in favour and one against.

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