Archaeological Success for a New Battery Energy Storage System (BESS)

Application Type: Archaeology Support for Planning Permission
Development Description: Construction of a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS)
Local Authorities/Councils: Hull City Council

Fuller Long are pleased to have supported a successful planning application for the development of a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), with ancillary infrastructure and biodiversity enhancements in Hull. An Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment (ADBA) was provided by Fuller Long to support this application. 

The site is located very close to the River Hull, a tributary of the River Humber. Rivers were often focal points for settlement and other activity as they provided people with resources, and a faster way of moving around. Riverside locations are also more likely to contain preserved palaeoenvironmental evidence, such as plant, insect and mollusc remains. This evidence can help us identify which crops were grown, and therefore what food was eaten, during prehistoric times. Because of its riverside location, the Site was considered to have a theoretical potential for archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence, and our ADBA investigated how likely the Site was to contain this evidence in practice.

The ADBA used a combination of archaeological, topographical, geological, and cartographical evidence from the site and its surroundings. We ordered a 1km search from the Historic Environment Record, a database of mapped finds, features and archaeological investigations. This data confirmed that whilst the Site had theoretical potential for prehistoric evidence due to its proximity to the River, no finds dating to the  indicated that no finds dating to the Palaeolithic (1,000,000-10,000 BC), Mesolithic (10,000-4,000 BC), Neolithic (4,000-2,200 BC) or Iron Age (800 BC to AD 43) had been recorded within the Site or its surrounds. The HER also failed to record any finds dating to the Bronze Age, but a search on the Portable Antiquities Scheme confirmed that a Bronze Age (2,200-800 BC) axe had been found in the surrounding area. Therefore, despite the Site’s theoretical potential for prehistoric evidence, analysis of HER data indicated that the area was not a focal point for activity during this time and the potential for evidence dating to any of these periods was concluded to be low.

The report also used historic maps, aerial photos and documentary sources to develop a timeline for the Site’s historic phases of development. Aerial photos provided evidence of recent topsoil stripping in recent years. Historic maps showed that the Site contained a railway shed or warehouse from the late 19th century onwards, and that prior to this it formed part of a gasworks. A contamination report which covered the gasworks area confirmed that soils and groundwater had been heavily contaminated by tar, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), ammonia, spent oxide, phenol, cyanide, TPH, asbestos and heavy metals.

The ADBA concluded that the Site had undergone multiple phases of development and contamination which would have severely impacted any archaeology in the unlikely event that it may once have been present. BESS schemes are relatively limited in the extent of their belowground impact. This led us to recommend that the Archaeological Desk Based Assessment would be sufficient to meet NPPF and Local Plan requirements for archaeology, and that no further archaeological work would be required to support the Site’s development.

BESS developments provide the means to store energy from renewables, such as solar and wind, which can be released when demand is high. The limitation of generating energy from renewable infrastructure is that it inherently depends on weather and seasonal variations. Thus, with the help of battery storage systems, surplus solar energy captured during summer can be released later in winter. As a result, BESS developments are essential in facilitating the process of replacing fossil fuels with greener alternatives, and will ensure that we are able to consistently power homes and businesses with green energy. Overall, this proposal supports the UK Government’s and Hull City Council’s transition to a carbon neutral economy.

If you are seeking archaeology assistance for your development we have a team of experienced archaeology consultants on hand that can handle all aspects of the application to optimise the chances of achieving permission or discharging archaeology planning conditions. Please call us on 0808 164 1288 or send details of your project to

Meet our team

Sophie Bell

Archaeology Consultant

Andrew Rudge

Heritage Consultant