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Newton Place Surgery on the Health Issues arising from Cleve Hill

Open letter to The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Society, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H OET A signed paper copy has been sent

Proposal to build a 350MW Solar Power Station with 700MWh Battery Energy Storage System at Cleve Hill, Graveney, Kent

Dear Secretary of State

I am the Senior Partner in the largest GP practice in Faversham, Kent . We serve a population of 18,500 patients, and a large part of the population of the village of Graveney is on our list. I am writing on behalf of the practice to urge you to decide against the above proposal on the grounds of the dangers to health, and indeed life, associated with the proposed Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).

When I first joined the practice, 29 years ago, one of my patients was a veteran of the first world war, who was still suffering the effects of chlorine gas: I think this proposal needs to be considered as having the potential to inflict a gas attack even worse than that which he experienced.

You will be aware from the report of the NSIP Examination that the proposed Lithium-ion BESS will be the largest in the world by a factor of five. Moreover, the installation will be within one mile of the village of Graveney and its primary school, and less than two miles from the historic market town of Faversham with its population of 19,000.

Lithium-ion Batteries

It is well established that Li-ion batteries are prone to runaway fires which can lead to explosions. Indeed, such fires at much smaller installations in the USA has led regulators to question the use of such batteries and pause further developments, especially close to habitation. The larger the BESS, the greater is the risk of a runaway fire. In the event of a fire Li-ion batteries emit a cloud of highly toxic Hydrogen Fluoride which can spread at dangerously high levels over distances of 1-2 miles, enveloping the town of Faversham and nearby coastal communities. These effects were modelled in detail in evidence to the Cleve Hill Examination.

Toxicity of Hydrogen Fluoride

Hydrogen fluoride goes easily and quickly through the skin and into the tissues in the body. There it damages the cells and causes them to not work properly. The gas, even at low levels, can irritate the eyes, nose, and respiratory tract. Breathing in hydrogen fluoride at high levels can cause death from an irregular heartbeat or from fluid build-up in the lungs. At lower levels breathing hydrogen fluoride can damage lung tissue and cause swelling and fluid accumulation in the lungs (pulmonary oedema). Eye exposure to hydrogen fluoride may cause prolonged or permanent visual defects, blindness, or total destruction of the eye. People who do survive after being severely injured by breathing in hydrogen fluoride may suffer lingering chronic lung disease.

I am extremely concerned that the potential hazards associated with such a large BESS pose an unacceptable risk of death or long term illness to the population which is served by Newton Place Medical Practice.

I, therefore, urge you to decide against this proposal.

Yours Sincerely, Dr Alastair Gould
Senior Partner
Newton Place Surgery

This was submitted to the examiners today.

I am fully aware that all deadlines for submission have passed, but the submission below is based on an important recent official document relevant to the several references to the 2012 battery fire in Flagstaff Arizona, that have been made throughout the CHSP Examination. The relevant regulator - Arizona Corporation Commission has recently (2/8/19) published its determination in that matter and in the matter of a more recent  2019 BESS fire and explosion in Surprise, Arizona. Given it's authoritative, definitive and conclusive nature, I am requesting that for completeness this submission is brought to the attention of the Examiners before they make their recommendation to the Secretary of State.

Addendum to Deadline 7 Submission by the Faversham Society to the CHSP Examination Relevant to the Dangers Associated with Lithium-ion Battery Energy Storage Systems

Throughout the course of the CHSP Examination, the Faversham Society and others have raised serious concerns about the safety of Li-ion Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) as evidenced by the incidence of runaway fires and explosions at BESS around the world. All such incidents involved BESS considerably smaller than that proposed by the applicants for CHSP. In our previous submissions and discussions during the examination, one of the more serious BESS fires - the 2 MWh battery fire in Flagstaff Arizona in 2012 was referenced, but at that time no conclusions had been drawn by the US authorities. 

2 Summary of the Determination
Commissioner Sandra D Kennedy of the relevant Regulator -  the Arizona State Commission, has now reported on the incident.
Her full report is here
Her conclusions are of great significance and include:

''The Flagstaff Fire Department report ''....references fires with ''10-15 ft flame lengths'' that grew into ''flame lengths of 50-75 ft'' with fire ''appearing to be fed by flammable liquids coming from the cabinets'' '. This highly significant piece of evidence shows how a fire can spread from one container to another and flatly contradicts the CHSP applicant's assertion that 100 containers are no more of a fire hazard than a single container and that any fire will be contained within a single container.
The Fire Department Report also states concerns about ''a serious risk of large scale explosion'' and ''the cabinets involved are full of lithium (sic) batteries that are extremely volatile if they come into contact with water.''
The Commissioner clearly states:
''Knowing now how easily a fire and/or explosion can evidently occur at these types of relatively small(2MW) lithium ion battery facilities, it appears that a similar fire event at a very large battery facility (250MW+) would have very severe and potentially catastrophic consequences, and that responders would have a very difficult time trying to handle such an incident.'' The BESS proposed for CHSP is even larger at 700MWh.
The Commissioner recommends that any large scale BESS  should be ''built in isolation'' and says ''an explosion could potentially flatten buildings at some distance''. She also draws the analogy that ''a 2MW battery facility is equivalent to 1.72 tons of TNT'' This makes the CHSP BESS equivalent to 602 tons of TNT. This is 1/20th of the TNT equivalent of the Hiroshima atom bomb. Moreover the CHSP BESS is within one mile of Graveney village and two miles of the town of Faversham.
The Commissioner  also reinforces our community's fears about batteries ''with chemistries that include compounds that can release Hydrogen Fluoride in the event of a fire and/or explosion and states clearly that ''those types of lithium ion batteries are not prudent and create unacceptable risks'' Moreover, contrary to the claims of the applicants  the Commissioner reinforces Dr Erasin's evidence stating that ''large amounts of hydrogen fluoride could be released and dispersed that would affect and harm the public at a substantial distance downwind'' and adds that ''There would be concerns about lingering hydrogen fluoride contamination in the affected areas.''
The Commissioner is clear that: ''water should not be used to suppress a fire such as a battery facility...'' - yet this was the method the applicants and their advisors favoured for CHSP.

The Commissioner also lays down stringent requirements for the protection of responders (fire and rescue services etc) to any incidents. None of these has been acknowledged by the proposers or by KFRS.
Given the absence of National Planning Statements on BESS, it is important that the Examination is guided by authoritative sources with experience of BESS projects. We would urge that the attached ACC Determination is the most thorough and up-to-date such source currently available.

3. Conclusion
This Determination by the Arizona State Commission clearly reinforces the view of the Faversham Society and others, expressed in evidence to the Examination, that the risks associated with Lithium-ion batteries are unacceptable at any scale and especially when close to habitation. It is clear that a  proposal for a Battery Energy Storage System close to Faversham, which will be over five times the size of the current largest in the world, poses unparalleled risks and must be regarded as recklessly dangerous and totally unacceptable.
Professor Sir David Melville CBE, BSc, PhD, FInstP, CPhys, Hon DSc, Sen Memb IEEE(USA)
Vice-ChairThe Faversham Society

The Faversham Society supports solar power, along with wind power and other forms of renewable energy. We are accordingly dismayed that hundreds of new houses are being built around Faversham without any sustainable energy provision. The Society supports clean solar. However, the Cleve Hill proposal is for dirty solar: we have major concerns about the batteries, safety and security and decommissioning. These concerns have not been allayed by anything presented at Deadline 6 or subsequently.


We do not consider that a strong enough case for need has been made to outweigh our concerns about the proposal from the developer. In our Deadline 5 submission (REP 5-053) we presented cogent arguments that in light of the rapid developments in small-scale localised solar PV it is impossible to establish that CHSP is needed to meet the requirements projected by the National Grid in their FES 19. This argument is reinforced by recent reports of potential growth in off-shore wind and ‘floating’ solar PV. The applicants in their submission to Deadline 6 (REP 6-015) unconvincingly seek to refute this argument by suggesting that the FES figures cannot be disaggregated between generation types and that the current proposals in planning are not an indication of projects which will materialise. We remain unconvinced since the disaggregation we used was that of the National Grid and it is clear that even if only about 60% of the projects in planning materialise, the FES 19 targets will be met without the need for CHSP. This argument coupled with the lack of National Planning Statements for Solar PV and BESS noted in our previous submission (REP 2-111) establish that it is perverse to proceed with a project on such unprecedented scale which is admitted to cause great harm and danger to communities, wildlife, environment and heritage.

Scale & Flood Risk

As the examination concludes, we remain concerned about the scale of this proposal that will industrialise an area larger than Faversham with major aesthetic and environmental impacts including reduced and degraded recreational space for this rapidly growing town.  

As Tim Ingram’s submission makes clear, the Environment Agency’s MEASS demonstrates that they originally intended managed realignment for the site. The CHSPL proposal has raised the value of the land to the extent that the EA can no longer afford to purchase it. We share Graham Setterfield’s concern that CHSPL has failed to prove that the risk of flooding in the town has not been increased by its proposed development.

Enforcement of the DCO

We argued in our verbal presentations at the last hearings, and our Deadline 5 submission that the local authority will struggle to exercise its ongoing responsibility for monitoring, discharge and enforcement of the requirements in the DCO within the eight-week time limit.

CHSPL’s assertion [2.10.7] that the DCO includes Requirements offers no assurance. The Requirements are unclear and therefore very difficult if not impossible for Swale Borough Council to enforce.

In our submission at Deadline 5, the Faversham Society called for “enforceable requirements” to be included in the DCO and suggested those that we felt should be included in the construction and operational phases. We specified those agencies whose approval CHSPL should be required to obtain before their operational plan is presented to Swale Borough Council.

The permission granted in Part 2 2 (2) (c ) of the DCO: “the outline design principles, or such variation thereof as may be approved by the relevant planning authority pursuant to requirement 19”, is very broad and will leave Swale with a large burden of oversight confronting a wealthy project undertaker. We seriously doubt the capacity of Swale or any other LPA adequately to secure the public interest in overseeing this development. The lawyers will have plenty of scope to challenge any attempt by Swale to enforce the DCO. We suggested that prior approval be required by the DCO. This has not been required.

There is no prior approval requirement in §19 and §20.  The project undertaker is merely required to consult prior to application. They are not required to secure approval. The public interest would be better protected if the agencies - HSE, Public Health England, KFRS, the Ambulance Service and NHS, the Kent Police Service and the Environment Agency – were clearly included as “discharging authorities” alongside the LPA, Swale.

§18-§24 provides for appeals and we foresee threats of legal action becoming a regular feature of efforts by Swale to enforce a weak DCO in order to protect the public interest.  We, therefore, request that the Planning Inspectorate ensure that the DCO is robust in securing the public interest. The provisions in §18-§24 may be reasonable for an infrastructure project using tried and tested technology, but the CHSP is not using a tried and tested technology and the risks of fire and subsequent explosion are great.

Batteries – Safety Risk

In 13.11 CHSPL asserts that its Outline Battery Fire Safety Management Plan has been reviewed by the “HSE and is currently being reviewed by Kent Fire and Rescue.” There has been very limited discussion with the KFRS, indeed CHSPL waited to be contacted by them before consulting with KFRS. It is clear that KFRS only contacted CHSPL after the Faversham Society raised its concerns with KFRS. CHSPL did not approach them and we regard this as unreasonable given the new hazards, and the scale of those hazards, that will result from the construction and operation of the batteries. In particular there is no evidence that KFRS have yet taken into account the fact that the proposed BESS at 700MWh is now over five times as large as the current largest in the world - the 129 MWh ‘giant battery’ built by Tesla at Hornsdale in Australia. Additionally, in their responses the applicants have failed to adequately reassure us that their proposed safety measures will be effective at this scale, given the repeated failure of these measures at sites around the world. In these circumstances we suggest that the DCO require that full approval of the Safety Management Plan be secured from KFRS and the HSE before submission of the final plans to Swale Borough Council.

The Outline Battery Fire Safety Management Plan will need to be revised when final decisions about batteries are made.  That new plan should be approved by KFRS and the HSE before submission to Swale. The review of the Safety Management Plan for a very large installation using emergent and untested technology will not be a simple matter and it will take time. Swale will not have sufficient time, within the eight weeks, if there is not prior approval from KFRS and the HSE. Given the scale of the public safety risk we still regard it as essential that Public Health England, the NHS and the Ambulance Service approve the plan and risk mitigation.

The DCO requires 3 (4) that Swale “must consult with the Health and Safety Executive and Kent Fire and Rescue Service before determining an application for approval of the BSMP.” In 20 the undertaker is required merely to consult “another person or body prior to discharging a requirement” where the local authority is “required by this Order or other statute to consult with another person or body prior to discharging a requirement”. The developer is not required in the DCO to secure prior approval from the regulatory public agencies which in our view should extend to HSE, Public Health England, KFRS, the Ambulance Service and NHS (they will need to have plans for a major incident), the Kent Police Service and the Environment Agency.

Security & Terrorism

In 2.13.1 CHSPL’s response that it will address the terrorism risk by installing CCTV is derisory.  If the solar power station were to be approved, the status of the Cleve Hill site should be formally reviewed via a Security Considerations Assessment[1] in particular because of the BESS and the significantly increased risks associated with it.  CHSPL’s response to concerns about terrorism suggests that they are not even aware of that need and raises the question of whether they’ve planned for the costs of enhanced security (including possible daily visits by security services) in their financial projections.  Since there is no battery system anywhere in the world on the scale of the proposed BESS at Cleve Hill, CHSPL should provide explicit information on what parameters will be used to assess risk, who will shoulder security costs, at what stage that assessment will be conducted, to what extent the coastal location of CHSP exacerbates risk, and what the implications of the risk assessment are for insurance.  If – as we believe likely – the security risk is assessed as being high, a final decision on whether the project should proceed should not be taken until the answers to these questions are known.

CHSPL has argued throughout the examination process that it will adopt the best available BESS. As the scale of the proposed system is unprecedented, the associated plans should be reviewed in fine detail by the relevant responsible agencies to ensure that they comply with the DCO, and that the DCO is sufficiently tightly written to ensure that environmental damage and health and safety risks are minimised, and that the development and its subsequent operation poses no threat to life. These conditions should be based on the precautionary principle, enforceable requirements and binding guarantees on decommissioning.

Consultations with a Lloyds Underwriter suggest that “no one’s going to insure that”.[2] Is there no way that the adequacy of the insurance can be subject to regulatory oversight? Given the consequences of a fire and explosion should this development not be subject to much more robust oversight than a local planning authority §18-§24 can provide?

Traffic and Transport

We are unconvinced by the applicant’s Traffic Plans and remain concerned that such huge volumes of HGV and other construction traffic will, during the construction phase over a period of 2-3 years, be passing within a few metres of the primary school playground and classrooms with only minutes between vehicles. The impacts on young children of noise, pollution and danger should not be understated and in our view the applicant’s mitigation proposals are totally inadequate. Regular monitoring will be essential with a facility to stop the traffic if unacceptable levels are reached or when children are required to use the road, for example to cross from the school to their playing field.

Traffic disturbance will also continue throughout the lifetime of the plant, associated with regular maintenance as well as damaged and spent battery replacement. Li-ion batteries which have failed are likely to be highly toxic and dangerous and the applicants acknowledge this in their (still) Outline Battery Management Safety Plan submitted for Deadline 6 (REP 6-021). The Faversham Society and local parents and teachers are deeply concerned that their children will be exposed to regular traffic which is acknowledged by the applicant to be subject to mandatory rules based on UN guidance concerning the ‘International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) 2019’ as well as the UK Government’s guidance on the transport of dangerous goods ‘Moving dangerous goods, Guidance’.

Further, we are dismayed that the applicants have dismissed our concerns, and those of others, regarding the width of the road through Graveney village, the lack of pavements and the impossibility of passing vehicles for much of the route. We assert that the traffic associated with this proposal makes passing places and pavements essential and that, were the project to go ahead, the applicants should be required to fund the necessary land acquisitions to ensure these.

Environmental Impacts

The coastal landscape in which the proposed CHSP would be located is characterised by populations of iconic British wildlife species including marsh harriers, Brent geese, golden plover, lapwing, the critically endangered European eel, water voles and dormice to mention just a few.  The neighbouring Swale Ramsar site, Special Protection Area and Marine Conservation Zone, as well as the Oare Marshes reserve, were established to protect those species and their coastal habitat and in recent years have become increasingly popular attractions for visitors to the area and as amenities for local residents. 

Because of its unprecedented scale, apart from its inevitable negative visual impacts the long-term effects of the proposed CHSP on species and habitat cannot be accurately predicted.  As a result, most conservation organizations oppose the project and, if it does go ahead, have urged CHSPL to adopt a precautionary approach where wildlife is concerned.  While the current low-grade agricultural land at the Cleve Hill site is not ideal for wildlife, the Environment Agency’s proposal (in its draft Medway Estuary and Swale Strategy, MEASS) to allow over 200 hectares of the site to revert to tidal saltmarsh via managed realignment would have had multiple and profound benefits not only via improved wildlife habitat but also in the form of other ecosystem services including carbon sequestration, coastal protection and provision of nutrients for marine organisms.  By its own admission, the alternative site to Nagden Marsh that was adopted by the EA in the final version of the MEASS – Chetney Marsh – is not suitable for managed realignment because of the presence of nationally-critical infrastructure so has been earmarked instead for the lesser intervention of “habitat adaptation.”  The opportunity cost of deferring managed realignment at Nagden Marsh by atleast 40 years is therefore very substantial.  Saltmarshes constitute the second most valuable ecosystem for humans after coral reefs, providing benefits to society valued in 2014 at just under US$193,000 per hectare per year – i.e. roughly £30m every year. 

On that basis, the Faversham Society’s position is that – if other problems such as the BESS, security concerns, etc., can be overcome – the project should be relocated to an alternative site where the benefits of a renewable energy project could be achieved without the unacceptably high opportunity costs.  The EA’s reasons for stepping away from managed realignment at Nagden Marsh should be questioned, an independent study conducted of any increased risk of coastal flooding as a result of that decision, and the entire matter revisited if permission for the CHSP is declined and the price of purchasing the land for reversion to saltmarsh returns to a normal market level.

Harold Goodwin
Chair of the Faversham Society

[1]   https://www.cpni.gov.uk/system/files/documents/04/71/Security_Considerations_Assessment_v4_2019-06.pdf

[2] https://www.favershameye.co.uk/post/cleve-hill-a-small-problem-of-insurance

Submission on behalf of the Faversham Society to Open Floor Hearing 3 - for Deadline 5  

The Need for CHSP in the context of Demand for Solar PV – Addendum

Short Summary

According to National Grid data on solar energy requirements CHSP is not needed. This need is already being met by the rapid growth of smaller-scale solar arrays, with 4.8 Gigawatts of solar projects planned for completion between 2019 and 2022 excluding Cleve Hill.

This far exceeds the National Grid’s 2019 Future Energy Scenario which predicts that the maximum additional demand for solar required between 2019 and 2022 is 3.0 Gigawatts.

  1. Introduction

This paper updates our previous analysis submitted under the Need Submission for CHSP including more detailed information on National Grid 2019 Future Energy Scenarios (“NG FES”) and updated information on Solar PV projects currently in planning.

Crucially, the National Grid’s projections of need for solar PV through to 2022 have been revised down whilst the growth of small-scale solar PV projects in planning has accelerated, making it now impossible to justify any need for CHSP on the basis of national energy requirements.

2. Government policy

There are two key UK Government targets for delivering a pathway to zero carbon and maintaining global temperature increases at sustainable levels:

A target to operate the electricity system at zero carbon by 2025; and

The target from 80% reduction in greenhouse gases from 1990 levels by 2050 as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008, was updated in June 2019 to net zero emissions target

3. The National Grid Future Energy Scenarios

National Grid consider the above targets in developing their FES. They, of course, recognise the need for immediate action to address these important targets considering a whole system approach and using multiple technologies across heating, electricity and transport energy demands.

Crucially, two of the four pathways presented by NG FES achieve the 2050 decarbonisation target. These are:

  • Community renewables; and
  • Two degrees.

This is considering the whole system approach outlined by national grid who consider the overall requirement of the UK energy system to ensure the maintenance of security of supply including: imbalance and the lack of inertia which results from renewable energy; the cost of delivering this energy security; and the decarbonisation goals.

4. Updated analysis

Given the above, we have updated our detailed analysis presented previously for the 2019 FES electricity generating capacity projections presented by National Grid, using specifically their projections for solar PV capacity to be required in each year.

5. Updated Solar PV capacity in planning

6. Conclusion

Faversham Society submission Deadline 5

The DCO  

In the Society’s view, it is essential that the DCO provides a clear set of planning conditions to enable Swale Borough Council to fulfil its responsibilities. These conditions should be based on the precautionary principle, enforceable requirements and guarantees on decommissioning.

The developer appears unwilling to produce a simple list of requirements with which it will comply, “a very clear and straightforward route map.” Given the number of consultants and the mass of paper which they have produced, it seems to us to be entirely reasonable to expect that they would provide a list of the requirements with which they would comply. If they intend that there should be flexibility, this could be made clear in the schedule of requirements. The maze of documents which they have generated would be rich pickings for an appeal, and this would be a constraint and deter Swale Borough Council’s enforcement when faced with a well-funded and potentially litigious developer. There is reason to be concerned that this may be the intent. There are significant material risks from this development and Swale Borough Council should be provided with a clear schedule of requirements if they are to have any realistic prospect of exercising their responsibility for the Discharge of Requirements.

Precautionary Principle

As we have demonstrated in our other evidence submitted for Deadline 5, there is no imperative national need for this development. Today the Government has announced 12 new renewable energy projects which are set to deliver clean energy to seven million homes. The new projects, announced in the latest round of Whitehall’s Contracts for Difference scheme, will provide around 6GW of capacity – 2.4GW more than the last round. https://www.localgov.co.uk/Whitehall-announces-12-renewable-energy-projects/48182

Agricultural Land
There is a substantial difference in the assessment of the quality of the land on the development site. In our view, in the context of food security and climate change, planners should adopt a precautionary approach and accept that the site has value as agricultural land.

Climate change and biodiversity both threaten our species and our planet. The loss of habitat by turning the land over to industry, and likely rendering it sterile and polluted, may be more significant than the reduction in greenhouse gases that the CHSP may deliver. Intertidal habitat is squeezed between seawalls and rising sea levels and has already disappeared in parts of Essex.
Saltmarsh is not wasteland.

“Saltmarsh has a value that is related to its flood and coastal defence function and ecosystem and conservation importance, as well as its role in pollution control, waste disposal and the maintenance of water quality, fisheries, agriculture, recreation and tourism. This value is based on the interaction of its basic components (soil, water, flora and fauna), their physical shape (including channels and saltmarsh surfaces) and the assemblage of plants and animals they hold.”[1] Joint Defra / Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management R&D Programme

Climate Change
The recent IPCC report on land use and climate change provides grounds for questioning whether greenhouse gas emissions might not be reduced further by a managed retreat strategy than by industrialising the land.  

SF6 is a cheap and non-flammable, colourless, odourless, synthetic gas. It is also highly polluting 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide (CO2). Just one kilogram of SF6 warms the Earth to the same extent as 24 people flying London to New York return, and it persists for at least 1,000 years. SF6 is extensively used for switching gear.

If SF6 is to be used by the applicant or may be used by the applicant, then leakage should be included in their net carbon assessment. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49567197

Solar technology is not entirely clean, and there is a substantial risk of pollution from the solar panels and batteries. Dr Erasin’s paper details the heavy metal leaching which can be expected from the PV panels, and there have been several representations on the pollution risks arising from the very large battery installation. This pollution may enter the water table and the aquifer which provides Faversham’s water and degrade the land making it unsuitable for manged retreat and requiring that it is protected from inundation at public expense.

Flood Risk
There has been evidence presented on the flood risk to the site, which would spread any onsite pollution into the Swale, and the increased flood risk to Faversham presented in the latest Open Floor Hearings. We remain very concerned that managed retreat with all the environmental benefits that would bring is to be delayed and that the land could be polluted and rendered unsuitable for managed retreat.


There is still a remarkable lack of detail on the battery installation. Lithium-ion batteries at this scale is an emergent technology and one with considerable risk associated with it. These are risks which Swale Borough Council does not have the capacity to deal with adequately.

Dr Erasin’s submission makes clear the human health and environmental risks from hydrogen fluoride, and there is also a clear risk of groundwater poisoning by heavy metals leaching from the PV and from the batteries.

The Faversham Society’s view is that the DCO should require the applicant to secure clearance from appropriate regulatory, scientific and professional bodies that the proposed solar and battery installations are non-hazardous and safe. The developer should be required to secure a statement from the following bodies that they are certain that the technology is safe, will be operated and maintained to a safe standard and that any incident can be dealt without endangering human life or damaging the environment, before submitting their application to Swale Borough Council:

Health & Safety Executive
Assurance that the proposal meets all health and safety standards and any anticipated changes in the next five year.
Assurance that the proposed safety supervision and maintenance is adequate

Public Health England
Assurance that the development poses no threat to human life #

Environment Agency
Assurance that they are satisfied that the pollution risks have been adequately addressed so that the risk is very low.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service
Assurance that they are equipped and trained to deal with any foreseeable incident. Assurance that the proposed fire safety supervision and maintenance is adequate

Kent Police Service
Assurance that the site is secure and that any terrorism threat is very low.

Evidence  that the development is fully insured for all risks in the construction and operational phases

Enforceable Requirements

The planning conditions, expressed as requirements, should be clear, specific and enforceable. It has become clear during the hearings that there are going to be staff permanently based on the site and with vehicle movements to support their work and to supply materials and new batteries and removal of defective batteries.

We feel strongly that the Requirements should include

Construction Phase

Approved Fire Prevention Plan
Approved Waste Management Plan
Number of vehicle movement per day by class of vehicle
Restrictions on movement past the school at start and end of day
Approved access and egress routes
Hours of operation
Defined limits on noise and monitoring points
Dust and Smoke limits
Emissions from the activities shall be free from odour at levels likely to cause pollution outside the site, as perceived by an authorised officer of the Environment Agency,

Operational Phase

Approved Fire Prevention Plan
Number of vehicle movement per day by class of vehicle
Restrictions on movement past the school at the start and end of day
Approved access and egress routes
Hours of operation
Defined limits on noise and monitoring points
Dust and Smoke limits
Emissions from the activities shall be free from odour at levels likely to cause pollution outside the site, as perceived by an authorised officer of the Environment Agency,
Approved Waste Management Plan

These are not intended to be exhaustive lists.


There are many sites around the UK, and in Kent, left derelict by failed companies. As we understand the situation, the expectation is that after 40 years, the solar panels and batteries will be removed and the land will be returned to nature. It will then be allowed to become intertidal and the Environment Agency, or its successor, will adopt a managed retreat strategy.  The land will no longer have any value and the current landowner, or heirs, will have no interest in the land, if it is to revert to marsh it will have no commercial value. There will be no motivation either to clear the land nor to decontaminate it.

In the absence of any information from the applicant, there is no reason to doubt Dr Erasin’s estimate of £42m. In our submission at Deadline 4, we expressed concern about the apparently tight margins in this proposal; so tight that no community payment has been offered, one was provided in the London Array case. What we now know of the likely decommissioning costs increases our concern about decommissioning, a sinking fund or bond adequate to cover decommissioning is therefore essential.

CHSP may be bought and sold several times. Bankruptcy would ensure that responsibility for decommissioning could be avoided and the land would be left derelict and polluting.

[1] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/290974/scho0307bmkh-e-e.pdf

Thank you Posy

To register your interest contact Gill gill.art.connelly@gmail.com

by Saturday 14th September 2019

At the end of the first set of hearings, the Faversham Society still has some major concerns since many questions remain unanswered, and new questions have been raised. While the applicant may answer some of these in written submissions, the Society considers that these answers should be subject to challenge. It was clear from the first set of hearings that there are inadequacies and omissions in the documentation submitted by the applicant and that the applicant’s submissions need to be challenged.

We also have serious concerns about the capacity of Swale Borough Council (SBC) to undertake the work necessary to adequately address the Discharge of Requirements if this becomes necessary. The fact that the applicant has a right of appeal against SBC decisions and their refusal to give up this right is worrying. The developer’s extensive resources pitted against SBC’s limited resources constrained by public spending limits do not augur well for SBC ability to adequately provide oversight. In order to level the playing field, we would urge that the DCO is as explicit as possible about those requirements that need to be satisfied.

If the development is built it is not clear to us how the various conditions might be enforced. This also means in particular that our cogent arguments on the limitations of the Rochdale envelope should be accepted, and that much more detail on the technology is provided now.

As already notified, we request additional Issue Specific Hearings as follows:

  1. The Battery Energy Storage System(BESS)

As you will recall, the applicant suggested that after 40 years the PV panels would be removed, but that the battery compound and batteries might be retained. The applicants did not respond when we tried to pursue this. This statement is in stark contrast to other statements by the developer that the BESS is not an essential part of the development and may be replaced by additional PV panels. Given the huge cost and construction time of the bund around the BESS enclosure, the developers admitted that such a decision would have to be made at the start of the project. Not implementing the bund would require a major change to the proposal as it stands, not least to time scales and traffic plans. But as we have also pointed out, exchanging a BESS with more solar PV is a major change of technology and fundamentally changes the nature of the proposal. Why has such an important and fundamental decision not been made already?

The considerations above lead us to a requirement that the developers are explicit on their intentions for the BESS both during and after the 40 year lifetime of CHSP.

  • Is its main purpose for smoothing intermittent supply from renewable energy sources or is it primarily a means of storing and trading energy?
  • Does it have a role in relation to the existing wind power capacity or is the possible use after 40 years simply for energy trading?

 These and other questions, on for example the energy specification of the BESS, are fundamental and the answers may possibly indicate an intention to create what is effectively a standalone BESS  which is very different from a proposal for a solar PV plant.

A further ISH on batteries and associated technology is needed to explore the many outstanding questions relating to the BESS, which besides those raised above would include:

  • Justification by the developers of their blanket use of the Rochdale envelope and reaching a defined position on the appropriate level of detail in the light of the well-documented hazards associated with large scale BESS
  • Specification and type of batteries and criteria for their choice based on, for example, safety record. E.g containerised vs stand alone
  • Worst case scenario on proposed total energy storage
  • Previous UK and European experience of this scale of BESS
  • Implications of current best practice advice on large scale BESS including that previously presented at Open Floor 2 from the insurance industry
  • Spacing of batteries to avert thermal runaway and provide emergency services access, and the impact of spacing on total energy storage
  • Access by emergency services by external roads and through the bund to all points in the BESS in order to ensure individual fires can be dealt with
  • Liaison with Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) in the BESS design stage and sign off by them and the HSE
  • Fire elimination and suppression measures to be built in, in the light of their previous well-documented failure in Hawaii, Arizona and Belgium
  • An independent assessment of the local knowledge and capacity of KFRS to deal with a runaway fire, including proposed suppression methods, extinguishing, cooling, and reignition (which has been shown to occur well after an incident). This to include best practice for lithium-ion batteries as well as the possibility of free lithium being produced in the event of an explosion, making the use of water extremely dangerous. Ability to cope in a toxic emission situation
  • Impact of hydrogen fluoride and other toxic gas emissions from a fire on neighbouring receptors including the whole of Faversham. See the submission by Bruno Erasin on HF emissions at Open Floor 2
  • Need and Alternative Sites

We have submitted further evidence on need for deadline 3 drawing on the recently published FES 2019 projections form the National Grid. This shows that there is no evidence of need for CHSP. The National Grid also points out that right through to its 2050 projections, future energy need will be met from distributed generation rather than centralised energy plants such as CHSP.

This authoritative and seminal view of need derived from the National Grid’s FES 2018 and FES 2019 is an unexplained omission from the application which has not been raised in the Examiner’s Questions nor has it been discussed in Hearings.  Our view is that it is essential that the applicants provide a response and that they can be questioned on it.

Having carefully read the applicant’s submission and listened to their evidence, we are now firmly of the view that the location is opportunistic. The site has been chosen because of the availability of the link to the national grid due to the spare capacity from the London Array, and we would like to point out that further wind power generation would almost certainly have had less negative environmental impacts than the Cleve Hill proposal. We would like to see further evidence on need and a proper review of alternative sites.


In addition to our proposals for two further Issue Specific Hearings above, we have outstanding questions relating to the following topics. We would like these questions to be put to the applicants in the next round of Examiners’ questions.

  1. Agricultural Land
    The wide difference between the applicant’s assertions about the quality of the site as agricultural land and that presented by Dr Bruno Erasin is cause for concern. His evidence provides a substantial critique of the timing, methodology, data and the applicant’s evidence; sufficient to call into question the reliability of the applicant’s evidence.

  2. Managed Retreat

Marshland is now recognised as important for carbon sequestration and we have not found any acknowledgement of this in the application. We would like the applicant to be required to present data on the value of the ecosystem of the land as marsh compared to its use for power generation.

There was reference by the Environment Secretary in a speech on UK Climate Change Projections  to coastal realignment and a new strategy by the Environment Agency[i]  he said 'We are also pioneering ‘natural flood defences’, which support biodiversity and sequester carbon while lowering the risk of flooding.”

In the scientific literature, there is increasing evidence of the significance of the marsh for carbon sequestration:

“If coastal habitats are maintained at their current extent, their sequestration capacity over the period 2000–2060 is valued to be in the region of £1 billion UK sterling (3.5% discount rate). However, if current trends of habitat loss continue, the capacity of the coastal habitats both to sequester and store CO2 will be significantly reduced, with a reduction in value of around £0.25 billion UK sterling (2000–2060; 3.5% discount rate). If loss-trends due to sea-level rise or land reclamation worsen, this loss in value will be greater.”[ii]

The justification for the development of CHSP is its contribution to addressing greenhouse gas emissions, should the applicant not be asked to provide evidence that the net greenhouse gas benefit is positive taking into account the greenhouse gas emissions from establishing and operating the CHSP including the loss of carbon sequestration if the area reverted to salt marsh through managed retreat?

  • Biodiversity

We believe that there is good reason to question the quality of the applicant’s work on biodiversity. We heard evidence at the hearings of the importance of the site for European eels, Dormice and the Great crested newt. We would also like to have the opportunity to question the outcome of the Habitat Management Steering Group, about which, to date, we know very little. There should be an opportunity to challenge the evidence presented by the applicant on no net loss.

We heard Natural England inform us that monitoring of SSSIs is not taking place, what monitoring might we expect of the conditions attached to the DCO by either the Environment Agency or Natural England?

  • Cultural Heritage and the Views

We share Historic England’s concern about the level of harm to the setting of the listed buildings at All Saints Church (Grade I) and Sparrow Court and Graveney Court (Grade II).

We are concerned about the applicant’s lack of demonstrated concern and provision for the treatment of the WWII aircraft and any other archaeology which may be found on the site and have poles driven through it.

The cross-section drawings will assist with assessing the proposed planting and its impact on the intervisibility between the listed buildings and the Graveney Conservation Area.

We think that special regards should be paid to the relevance of the Barnwell case.

  • Transport

During construction of the London Array, there were specific measures to avoid movement by Graveney School at busy times. We have been surprised and dismayed by the lack of detail on safety, dirt, noise, visual intrusion and disruption to the education of young children
We have also not heard from KCC on the impact on traffic levels and the roads.

  • Finances

We realise that we have no access to the financial model behind the proposal, but we understand that the applicant has told residents that there is insufficient profitability to make any contribution to local causes. This contrasts markedly with the London Array development and raises questions in our mind about the viability of CHSP and leads us to suggest that there should be a bond to cover removal, disposal and habitat restoration.

Pole driving to support the panels will be both noisy and difficult to remove. It has been suggested to us that it would be more appropriate to use helical poles which would cause less disturbance to people and wildlife and would be easily removed and reused.

Professor Harold Goodwin

Chair, Faversham Society

For and on behalf of the Faversham Society

[i] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/michael-gove-speech-on-uk-climate-change-projections.

[ii] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272771413005143?via%3Dihub

CHSP Examination

Additional submission for deadline 3, following Open Floor 2

On behalf of the Faversham Society

Battery Energy Storage System (BESS)

  1. The Faversham Society and others have raised our concerns about the hazards associated with large scale BESS in written submissions. Following Open Floor Hearing 2 at which a number of participants, including the Faversham Society, reiterated these concerns and raised others, we have requested a further ISH on the Batteries and Related Technology and will shortly be sending you an extensive range of questions requiring responses from the applicants.
  2. One of the central issues is the lack any National Planning Statements on BESS, and indeed a general lack of guidance, both national and local.
  3. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has however begun to recognise the need for research and guidance and have established a Battery Safety and Energy Storage Test Facility: https://www.hsl.gov.uk/what-we-do/large-scale-testing-and-evaluation/battery-safety-and-energy-storage
  4. In 2016 the HSE initiated an extensive review of BESS - the 3-year  ‘HSE Shared Research Programme: Energy Storage’: https://www.hsl.gov.uk/energy-storage. The focus is on commercial or grid-scale technologies. As far as we can ascertain the results have not yet been published.
  5. There is however guidance for the Insurance industry in the form of a Technical Guidance Note from Allianz Risk Consultancy entitled Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) Using Li-ion Batterieshttps://www.agcs.allianz.com/content/dam/onemarketing/agcs/agcs/pdfs-risk-advisory/tech-talks/ARC-Tech-Talk-Vol-26-BESS.pdf
  6.  At Open Floor 2 we quoted extensively from this detailed publication which concludes ‘BESS using lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to thermal runaway and have been involved in several serious fires in the last few years’. The document recognises the lack of guidelines and highlights current knowledge gaps; describes the loss experience due to BESS fires in Hawaii, Arizona, Wisconsin and Belgium; describes the hazards; and makes detailed recommendation for the planning of BESS in relation to: Fire and Rescue Services; Construction and Location; Material, Equipment and Design; Ventilation and Temperature Control; Gas and Smoke Detection; Fire Protection and Water Supply; and Maintenance.
  7.  There is no reference to these crucial safety issues in the application and thee applicants chose not to respond when we raised them at Open Floor 2.
  8. The Faversham Society feels strongly that the applicants should be required to respond to these and other questions given that their proposed BESS is subject to all of these concerns and is of an unprecedented scale. Further, we believe these matters are of such importance that they should be subject to thorough investigation in a further Issue Specific Hearing.

Professor Sir David Melville CBE, BSc, PhD, CPhys, FInstP, Sen Mem IEEE(USA)


The Faversham Society

Registered Charity  Number 1135262 - Company No 07112241
The Faversham Society - Registered Address: 10-13 Preston Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 8NS
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