Developers of the Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) have asked Powys planners if detailed plans are needed to build an electric substation at the site near Ystradgynlais.

The £150 million Global Centre of Rail Excellence will be a purpose-built site for world class research, testing and certification of rolling stock, infrastructure and innovative new rail technologies.

The facility will be built at the former Nant Helen opencast coal mine, and it is hoped it will create hundreds of jobs.

Planning agents for GCRE, Fairhurst have lodged a screening opinion application with Powys County Council for the proposed development of the 132 kilovolt (kV) substation and ancillary development on land west of Onllwyn Road.

Fairhurst explained that the substation would connect to an existing powerline.

Fairhurst said that the substation would become a “point of distribution” at the GCRE site and transform the voltage in the overhead power line to different frequencies.

Fairhurst said: “The proposed development will serve the GCRE, which is to be a sophisticated testing facility for the railway industry; consisting of two rail testing loops and ancillary facilities.”

The question that Fairhurst want planners to answer is whether an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) would need to submitted before the building the substation.

Some types of development require Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) because they are likely to have significant effects on the environment.

Under schedule one of the legislation, larger and more complex development automatically require EIA.

But other developments such as the substation would come under schedule two of the legislation and developers need to ask local planning authorities on whether an EIA is needed or not – this is called a “screening opinion.”

Documents lodged with the application point to similarities between the GCRE substation and an electrical converter station in Pembrokeshire, which was deemed not to need an EIA.

Fairhurst said: “The development formed part of the onshore works supporting the Greenlink Interconnector Project with the second converter station to be sited in Ireland. It is relevant to the proposed development, as the electrical power conversion was found not to constitute EIA development.

“This was explicitly recognised as the project did not result in the production or generation of electricity.”

A joint issued scoping opinion by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority agreed no EIA was needed.

A spokesman for Powys County Council said: “The council can confirm that no Environmental Impact Assessment would be required.

“This decision has been relayed to the agent who submitted the application.”