The green belt battery storage compound was refused due to toxic gas explosion fears

Councilors have rejected plans for a massive battery storage complex that would “industrialize” the green belt north of Bristol amid fears of “toxic plumes of gas in a lithium explosion” near homes. But the fate of the proposed power station now rests in the hands of South Gloucestershire Council’s senior planning committee, as the decision went against officers’ advice to go ahead.

The 200 megawatt facility at Earthcott Green Farm, near Alveston, would store energy produced from renewable sources such as solar when it is most needed during the evening peak and could power 500,000 homes for two hours during a national grid outage. , preventing a power failure. It would have 176 battery storage containers, each 3m high and 6m long, a 15m communications tower, substation, transformers, 4m lighting/CCTV columns and a 2.5m perimeter fence which surrounds the six-hectare plot.

A planning officer told the development management committee that it would result in the “industrialization” of a rural area and was generally considered “inappropriate development” but that the public benefits outweighed the harm and recommended that permission be granted. But members rejected the deal by a 5-3 vote.

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Alveston Parish Councilor Marion Reeve told the meeting: “It’s not like a battery you put in a car, lithium is much more dangerous. The concern is that this is so close to residential properties – these people are at risk of toxic gases in a lithium explosion.

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“We’re not talking about a flashlight battery, we’re talking about something quite dangerous. You wouldn’t dream of putting a nuclear system 120 meters from houses.”

A 2020 fire at a battery energy storage system in Liverpool, which had 10 times less capacity than Earthcott Green’s proposed plant, took 59 hours to extinguish and created a “significant explosion”, they heard the counselors. Residents told the committee they would suffer from noise and light pollution that could also drive away protected species.