Batteries for energy storage: the Basingstoke MP expresses concern over fire

MP Maria Miller

According to a member of parliament, fire services should inspect potential locations for battery energy storage systems.

According to Basingstoke MP Maria Miller, lithium battery energy storage systems (BESS) have "widely acknowledged potential fire risks.".

There have been hundreds of BESS site applications submitted to councils, one of which was approved in Basingstoke.

The government advised councils to evaluate the risks on an individual basis.

When there is a spike in customer demand, the systems store electricity produced by renewable resources like solar farms and wind turbines before releasing it.

Planning approval for a BESS facility at Basing Fenn was given to Conrad Energy in 2020.

A hospital, modern housing, and a system of waterways feeding into the River Loddon are all close to the site.

Basing Fenn
At Basing Fenn, a battery storage facility will be constructed.

Neil Odin, Hampshire's chief fire officer, expressed concerns earlier this year about how to handle a potential fire that might start at the facility.

Defending the community from a potential toxic or explosive gas plume or applying water that would contaminate nearby waterways for years, he claimed, would be his crews' "impossible choice.".

In the event of a fire, the locations chosen could have a significant negative impact on the surrounding environment and critical infrastructure, the official continued.

The Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive, and fire services would be required to be consulted when considering planning applications if Dame Maria's proposal to classify such installations as "hazardous" is adopted.

"There are currently more than 350 [BESS sites] in the planning system, so my concern is not so much that we should stop them as it is to ensure that they are situated properly," she said.

"We need to increase power storage, but the potential fire risks associated with lithium ion batteries are now becoming widely acknowledged," she said in a Commons speech. ".

In response, Andrew Bowie, the under-secretary of state for energy security and net zero in the parliamentary branch of government, said: "I have been working with colleagues across government to establish the appropriate treatment of these facilities in planning and environmental regulation.

Every site should be evaluated on its own merits, and our local authorities should make that decision. ".

The planned energy storage facility in Basingstoke, according to Conrad Energy, is "essential to delivering the UK's net zero ambitions.".

The statement continued, "The equipment we procure is specified, engineered, and manufactured in accordance with the most recent international standards relating to fire safety in battery energy storage systems and is sourced from reliable suppliers.

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