Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Fury over plans to build huge battery storage facility on green land


A huge battery storage facility the size of two football pitches being built on protected green land will 'destroy life as we know it', furious villagers have warned.

People living in picturesque Chilworth, near Southampton, Hampshire, fear it will be a 'disaster' and create a fire risk, potentially causing toxic fumes close to a nearby nursery and school.

But despite locals concerns about lithium batteries' notorious tendency to go up in flames, the council gave the plans the green light during a fiery planning meeting invoking the wrath of one resident who stormed out.

Just yards from St Denys church, which has bells that date back to 1200, plans for the 'monstrosity' include a substation, transformer, site accesses, internal access tracks, security measures, access gates, other ancillary infrastructure and landscaping.

The village, referred to as Celeworda in the Domesday Book, boasts homes with thatched roofs and average house prices of over £910,000.

Boom Development's application was voted through at a Test Valley Borough Council planning meeting, with one councillor saying 'this is about our grandchildren and the future'.

The battery storage system - which will be built on a designated local green space gap between villages - is designed to charge up during times of low-demand via a nearby substation.

It can then be called upon when needed in more traditional peak times of early mornings and evenings when people create an energy surge boiling kettles, cooking foods and turning on TVs.

But Malcolm Henley, 71, who has been a battery engineer for over 50 years, said: 'This is nothing to do with renewable energy.

'It's not climate friendly, it loses energy. It actually takes time to charge these damn things.

'They argue we've got all this wind and hydropower but it's being used because of the shortage of infrastructure in the National Grid.

'So that during peak times, they can satisfy the shortage from the National Grid.'

Mr Henley, who is also a Chilworth Parish Councillor, added that the now-approved facility is 15 per cent 'inefficient' and lamented its location on green land.

'The disaster is going to be on the area - it's just going to create an industrial centre in the middle of a green space.

'This will destroy life as we know it. It will have a detrimental impact on the local gap.

'The sheer size of it is not compatible with the area. It will create a fire risk close to our local nursery and school.'

Land is being torn up to make way for underground cables to route it to a substation over 4km away.

'That is not conducive of an energy-sustainable project,' he added.

He said locals 'bitterly oppose' the 'monstrosity' of an installation because it could 'easily' have been built on an already approved site just four miles away in nearby Nursling.

'The committee have no knowledge of the technology,' he added.

'They have been given a renewable programme and they are just following the national view that they have been asked to.

'This is a huge installation and risk of fire - it's supposed to be at an industrial environment.'

He also warned of lithium-ion battery fires which are much harder to put out and 'extremely dangerous' because of fumes they emit.

'None of this has been taken into consideration,' he said.