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The Faversham Society opposed the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) and the Safety Management Plan. We are not opposed to solar energy. We are grateful to the Planning Committee members who shared our view that there are serious health and safety issues with the BESS and, therefore, declined to approve the developer’s proposal. We were also pleased that there was an acknowledgement of the scientific and technical expertise of Professor Sir David Melville CBE.

Our central objection was the inadequacy of the advice that SBC planning officers relied upon to reach their decision to recommend acceptance of the Battery Safety Management Plan (BSMP).

This arose due to the conflict of interest and lack of independence of the consultant used by SBC and the failure of Kent Fire and Rescue Service to follow the National Fire Chiefs Council Guidelines in giving their approval.

In particular, we laid out nine specific shortcomings in the BSMP which had not been adequately addressed in the paper to the Planning Committee:

1.      The need for measures related to the increased risk of explosions for LFP batteries - These batteries pose almost a 100% greater explosion risk

2.      The failure to seek Hazardous Substances Consent (HSC)

3.      The use of the minimum recommended (6m) container spacing for such a large BESS when there is experience of 23m flames

4.      The potential almost five-fold expansion of the BESS at some unspecified future date to make it one of the largest in the world.

5.      The failure to consider lessons from previous worldwide experiences of BESS failures as required in the National Fire Chiefs Council guidance

6.      Failure to consider the possibility of multiple simultaneous fires

7.      Failure to consider or reference the authoritative, independent Atkins report from the Northern Ireland Health and Safety Executive on airborne hazards in order to downplay the risk of potentially lethal toxic fumes in favour of their own cursory Hoare Lea analysis – the Atkins report suggests serious health risks in the neighbourhood  in the event of a fire or explosion

8.      A serious underestimating of the amount of fire water potentially required to fight a fire based on actual fire experience elsewhere – 26 times the amount proposed for Cleve Hill was needed to suppress the much smaller 2020 Liverpool BESS fire

9.      Failure to provide full details of the potentially dangerous fire suppression system in the sprinkler system proposed

March 12, 2024

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