Crossens Pumping Station in Southport

Solar panels could be built on a field next to Crossens Pumping Station in Southport, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions by around 240 tonnes per year. 

The Environment Agency (EA), which runs the site, has submitted a planning application for the scheme to Sefton Council and to West Lancashire Borough Council. 

A ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) with battery storage scheme would be installed on the field to the south of Crossens Pumping Station.

The generated energy will primarily be used and stored on site to power the existing pumping station assets and reduce reliance on the local grid.

Surplus power will be exported to the grid but bought back at other EA sites through an agreement with the existing energy supplier.

In 2019 the Environment Agency set an ambition to be a ‘Net Zero’ organisation by 2030 and to explore the possibility of becoming an ‘absolute zero’ organisation by 2050.

Crossens Pumping Station is a regionally important flood risk defence and land drainage asset owned and operated by the Environment Agency. 

As part of its operations the Environment Agency manages around 360 pumping stations nationally, all providing flood risk management to local communities. The carbon emissions from these flood defence assets account for a significant proportion of the EA’s operational carbon footprint.

The Environment Agency Cumbria and Lancashire team has identified renewable energy as one of its pathways to decarbonising its operations but has only previously implemented at small scale or on office buildings.

In Spring 2020, the Environment Agency undertook feasibility studies at Lancashire flood defence pumping stations to explore pathfinder projects for renewable and low carbon energy technologies.

These studies proposed installation of a 1MegaWatt peak (MWp) array of ground mounted solar photovoltaics, battery storage, and electric vehicle charging points at Crossens Pumping Station on Banks Road, Crossens, Lancashire. 

The project proposal was submitted to Priority Axes 5 (PA5) of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which supports research and innovation for small to medium sized enterprises and creation of a low carbon economy. The project was successful with its funding bid, which also came with approval from Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) administered by Lancashire County Council.

Crossens Pumping Station is one the Environment Agency’s largest pumping stations both in Lancashire and nationally. 

The site was originally constructed in 1961 with diesel driven pumps, which were replaced with electric pumps in the 1990s, with further modernisation projects in the 2000s and 2015.

The site sits at the intersection of Three Pools, Sluice, and Back Drain waterways, which drain water from the Alt Crossens catchment.

The site has 16 main pumps with a total pumping capacity of 31,000 litres per second.

In its application, the Environment Agency said: “Engagement with local communities and stakeholders on the proposed development has received positive feedback and helped develop an inclusive design that is sympathetic to local communities and stakeholders.

“The development supports the Government’s policy for the UK’s transition to achieving a low carbon economy and assists in meeting the pressing need for deployment of renewable energy generation in the UK to meet legally binding obligations for 15% of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.

“There are substantial beneficial effects associated with the proposed development, including environmental benefits associated with increased renewable energy generation and the enabling of the continued operation of a key site for flood protection in the region. 

“The proposed development is considered to be a sustainable development and, as such, this application should be approved.”

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