RESIDENTS near a planned solar farm in Inkberrow have called for tighter safety measures amid concerns the battery storage facility could ‘explode’.
Plans for a 279-acre solar farm were submitted to Wychavon District Council (WDC) by JBM Solar in February this year after a year-long consultation.
The plans have been met with outrage by residents, and a formal objection was submitted.
In a public letter to the Planning Authority, Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said the explosion risk in storage facilities was ‘unfortunately very real’.
Adrian Elliott, Assistant Chief Fire Officer said in his submission published on the Wychavon Council website: “If we were to let it burn, there would be a significant impact on the surrounding communities which would all be significantly impacted from the vapour/smoke plume for at least 24- 48 hours.
“There are minimal alternative options for water, however, due to the significant amounts we would use, the Environment Agency and Severn Trent may need to consider the impact of run-off in to local water courses.”
These fears are backed by residents campaigning against the plans for a battery storage facility.
Phil Coathup, from the Roundhill Wood Solar Farm (RWSF) opposition group said: “Residents have a right to know what the plans would be in the event of a fire.
“There are also serious concerns about access to the planned site in an emergency, water supply and ventilation of these huge battery units and the community needs reassurance from the developer that it has a plan in place to deal with any explosions.
“It’s clear this type of storage facility poses a real danger to our communities, and we should not be putting people and our brave firefighters in such danger.”
A spokesperson for JBM Solar said: “We are actively engaging with Hereford and Worcester Fire Service in order to agree on a Battery Safety Management Plan (BSMP) for the proposed Roundhill Solar and Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) scheme.
“A number of design changes are being made to the scheme to take on board comments from the local Fire Service as well as the National Fire Chief’s Guidelines.
“JBM Solar intends to submit the BSMP along with a revised design to Wychavon District Council as soon as possible for their consideration and no batteries will be implemented on-site without the prior approval of the local fire service.”