FURIOUS parents have launched a battle to block a plan for a lithium battery storage facility the size of a football field on land next to a much-loved riding school.

Renewables firm Apetura want to house dozens of 12-metre-long metal ‘shipping style’ containers on a 62,000 square metre site at Townhead Farm in Newarthill, North Lanarkshire after securing a private deal for the land.

The move has been met with anger from locals who claim the development is unsuitable for the picturesque beauty spot – with one company owner saying if the proposal is rubber-stamped it will put her out of business.

Taylor Bouke, who runs family-owned Miehaven Pony Club, claims the disruption caused by lorries and other heavy goods vehicles during the construction phase will be enough to force her to close.

Glasgow Times: Taylor Bouke, right, and Amy Elliot Taylor Bouke, right, and Amy Elliot (Image: Colin Mearns, Newsquest)

She said: “Horses are very sensitive animals and there is no way they will be able to cope with trucks and lorries coming and going literally a stone’s throw away. This is right across the road from us, and it will destroy our business. We also operate as a boarding kennels for pets and as a livery, so there will be more distress. 

“Apart from the upset to the animals, the club offers riding lessons in a safe and quiet space to children with autism and other additional learning needs. How can we hope to continue that with a massive construction operation going on a few hundred metres away. It is ludicrous to want to build this here.”

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The 23-year-old exclusively told the Glasgow Times that she believes the development will also pose road safety concerns to parents with children at Newarthill Primary school.

She added: “It is not only near to us and the heart of the village, but also the school. How can it be safe to allow these massive lorries to rumble through tight roads that are always busy with children?

“The only way to access the site itself is through an access road that large vehicles will find impossible to navigate. We have 20 horses, and they will be traumatised by this. I’m also asking a vet to compile a detailed report on any ongoing impact the noise from the plant could have on the animals’ wellbeing to put forward as an objection to the plans.

“People come to Miehaven because it’s set in a quiet and peaceful location but if this goes ahead it will no longer be a sanctuary, we will have no choice but to close.”

Glasgow Times:

Taylor continued: "I can’t have the riding school next to a battery plant and the potential risks that I feel that brings. If there was a fire, it would be unthinkable, I just couldn’t have it on my conscience. I really hope those making the decision whether this goes ahead step up and do the right thing.”

Glasgow Times: The animals who board at the business are also barking mad.The animals who board at the business are also barking mad. (Image: Colin Mearns)

Taylor believes that an area nearby zoned for business or industrial use would offer a better location.

She added: “We have plenty of space at places like Eurocentral. Take it somewhere like that and away from people’s doorsteps.”

Lesley Dunvley’s daughter Ella, five, attends the pony club and is also opposing the plan.

She said: “Considering the volume of traffic into the facility daily, there is a high possibility of the vehicles spooking horses, which could result in children being thrown off and seriously injured. There are young and inexperienced riders who do not have the skills and knowledge to control the horses, should they rear up or bolt.

“There are children and staff moving throughout the yard. It’s just not suitable to have HGV’s passing through. So much work needs to be carried out just to level land before anything could be built there. It’s a massive operation right next to a pony club. I just don’t see how it makes any sense.

“I have no doubt these developers wouldn’t want this storage plant on their doorstep and we certainly don’t want it on ours.

“The small access road is not designed for any sort of major incident response. It is my understanding too that the land is zoned for agriculture and farming, it is unsuitable in every way for something like this.”

Glasgow Times:

A spokesperson for AAH Consultants, who are the agents acting for the applicants, said: “This project is still in the very early stages and there is a significant amount of work in terms of design, technical studies and planning assessments still to do.

“As part of this, all aspects of the proposal will be addressed, including safety management, and the proposals specification will be prepared to help further understanding around the technology and development. All comments received as part of the consultation process will be considered as part of the proposal.

“In the meantime, we can confirm that Apatura are committed to working with the local community and they will provide further information showing all of their ongoing progress towards tackling the Scottish Government’s net zero targets.”

A spokesperson for North Lanarkshire Council adds: “This application will be considered by the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit, so any comments from the public would need to be directed there. The council has no remit in this case.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson added: “Our planning and consenting systems ensure that local communities can have their say on planning applications.

“It would not be appropriate for us to make comment on the handling or merits of live applications.”