PLANS to build a gas-fired power plant on the north-western edge of Verwood have been refused.

Conrad Energy said its 5MW facility would have provided a back-up energy supply for the equivalent of 3,000 homes.

But Dorset Council planners said it was “inappropriate” for its proposed green belt location and rejected the scheme last Friday.

Conrad Energy said its proposed new facility at The Old Brickyard off Station Road would provide boosts to the local network “at short notice”.

“The proposed flexible gas-fired power plant is an essential facility in the provision of a secure and sustainable energy supply,” a statement submitted on its behalf by planning consultancy Lichfields said.

“This will be most commonly required at times when renewable energy sources fail to generate sufficient electricity or, alternatively, during short periods of exceptional demand for energy.

“Flexible power plans can only be located where easy access can be achieved to gas supply and electricity substations. As such, the number of locations they can be sited is limited.”

Concerns had been raised about the addition of new non-renewable electricity production in the country, with the scheme opposed by East Dorset Environment Partnership and East Dorset Friends of the Earth. Objections were also lodged by Verwood Town Council Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England.

The application was refused by Dorset Council planning officer Gareth Kitching who said the benefits of the power station did not outweigh the protection of the green belt.

“It is considered that the proposal, given its siting and scale, would diminish the open character of this green belt location and add visual clutter within the landscape,” his report says. “Very special circumstances outweighing the harm by reason of inappropriateness have not been demonstrated in this case.”

Speaking following the decision, Conrad Energy development manager John Colombi said: “We are disappointed with officers’ decision to refuse our application, before it had a chance to be considered by [councillors]. Our project would have been one of many standby power generators located around the country which are a vital component of the growing renewable energy infrastructure to ensure security of supply and avoid power cuts, as experienced across the country just last week.”