A dispute over who is responsible for a hedgerow has caused a three-month delay to plans for a standby power plant on the edge of Oswestry.

Enso Energy wants to open the gas-powered power plant, which would be used to prevent blackouts, to be up and running by late 2019 or early 2020.

But the proposal, for land off Whittington Road and A5, have now been put on hold for three months because Highways England is disputing who owns a hedge alongside the road.

Highways England says it is not its responsibility to maintain the hedge or adapt it for an entrance to the site and has asked for a three-month delay while it carries out further talks.

In its submission to Shropshire Council, the agency said: “Highways England have previously responded to this application, most recently in March 2019 in response to information regarding the proposed site access and a Construction Traffic Management Plan.

“There remains concern around the proposed site access. Regarding the submitted, amended access drawing, our review has indicated that the design still does not fully comply with the standards set out.

“Regarding the applicant’s assertion that Highways England are the party responsible for the maintenance of hedges currently limiting the visibility splays available.

“This assumption is not correct, as hedges bordering the road network, excluding motorways, are the responsibility of the adjacent land owner to maintain.

“We met with the applicant in May 2019 to clarify this point and make clear that land ownership is a mutually exclusive point that should also be clarified by the applicant.

“We provided Highways England Land Team’s contact details to confirm the blue line boundary shown and ensure that no third-party land owner exists.”

It added: “Hedgerows should be removed with an appropriate set-back from the required visibility envelope to ensure they are ‘self-maintaining’ and do not soon grow back across the visibility splay, a two-metre set-back was discussed.

“Based on the above, it is recommended that the application is not granted permission for a further period of up to three months, in order that the requested information can be provided.”

The power plant would produce electricity for the National Grid during peak demand to stop people suffering power cuts, the application says.

Rachel Gaffney, planning consultant with Enzygo, said the National Grid operates at 50Hz but if it drops below 49.5Hz it could lead to blackouts, which is where standby facilities like the one proposed come in.

She said: “The primary function of the proposed facility is to provide electricity to the local distribution network at times of peak demand.

“This mechanism for balancing the system ensures a sufficient supply of electricity is readily available to local homes and businesses at all times.

“The proposed development will primarily respond to calls from National Grid in times referred to as ‘stress events’ – when the electricity networks’ reserve power balance has been reduced due to a surge in demand, or reduced availability of large scale generation (i.e. coal, wind, solar).”

The application includes the siting of 30 generators, two cabins, a substation, security columns, a gas governor, transformers, plus acoustic and security fencing.

A decision from Shropshire Council is expected by the end of the year.