PLANS for a controversial new Battery Storage System in Chickerell have continued to raise concerns over fire safety, despite alterations made by developers.

Developer Statera Energy wants to build a facility big enough for 600 shipping containers housing battery cells in the area between Coldharbour and the substation next to Weymouth FC

If approved the development could become one of the biggest of its type in Europe.

The plans were discussed by members of Weymouth Town Council's Planning and Licensing Committee at a meeting on Tuesday, January 30.

Dorset Echo: The proposed site layoutThe proposed site layout (Image: Statera/Dorset Council)

The plans previously received more than 130 public objections from members of the public as well as statutory bodies.

Many of the objectors say the containers are not only unsightly but present a major fire risk.

Some have also claimed they would effectively block a local “wildlife corridor.”

Alterations had been made to the plans, which now include two ways in and out of the site, which had been recommended by the fire service.

Councillor Tim Young said the site is "in the wrong place".

He added: “There are two large schemes like this one in Swindon and Hull, a key factor of theirs is they are at least two miles from the nearest dwelling.

“This one is right next door to Southill.

“Looking at the plans, they haven’t addressed any of our key concerns about fire, there is still no improved access for fire engines.

“I could not support this application at the moment, not without substantial amendment.”

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue has said that although the force is trained and equipped to deal with any incidents, it does have concerns about some aspects of the proposals.

The Planning and Licensing Committee previously submitted a comment to Dorset Council about the proposals, raising concerns about noise and fire risks.

The planning and licensing committee decided to repeat the comment which was made on the application.

The comment from the committee said: "Weymouth Town Council support in principle this development but insist that Dorset Fire Services comments are fully addressed.  

"We note concerns relating to the noise, and these need to be mitigated. The size of the site needs to be assessed due to close proximity to Coldharbour Lane. The developer needs to look at better solutions that have less fire risk.”

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service previously commented on the plans, saying the risks to firefighters "cannot be eliminated".

The fire service said: “Any fire involving grid-scale Li-ion battery storage would be treated as a hazardous materials incident in order that specialist technical advice can be obtained at the earliest opportunity.

"Our response crews have been provided with additional training and awareness in the hazards and risk management of BESS installations and as such the risk to them is considered to be controlled, although it would be true to say that the risks to firefighters cannot be eliminated completely as has been evidenced from fires in BESS sites in other parts of the world.”

Since the new plans were brought forward, the fire service has said the alterations "appear to address" some concerns over fire safety.

A spokesperson for the fire service said: “Following initial consultation when the planning application was lodged, we engaged with the planning authority and the developer to discuss observations around the site layout and national guidance for such sites.

"The developer has now made alterations to the plans which appear to address these concerns.”