Fire fears raised over plan for eight-acre battery plant near A47

Swardeston Parish Council are objecting to a huge battery plant which energy company Ørsted is prop

Swardeston Parish Council chairman Derek Barber - Credit: Archant

An energy giant has lodged plans for a massive battery plant on the outskirts of Norwich - prompting safety concerns from people living nearby.

Ørsted Iceni ESS (UK), part of the Ørsted group, wants to store hundreds of lithium-ion batteries in two areas covering 3.2 hectares on a field off the B1113 in Swardeston, near the A47.

The renewable energy brand said: "Safety is always a high priority across all of our projects and operations. We develop robust safety plans in consultation with the local planning authority."

If approved by South Norfolk Council, it will mean energy generated by Ørsted’s Hornsea Three offshore wind farm can be stored in the new site.

From there it will be fed into the National Grid on calmer days when turbines are not turning enough.

Hornsea Three wind farm location. Image: Orsted

Hornsea Three wind farm location. Image: Orsted

Hornsea Three is not yet built but was given the go-ahead in 2020 by the Secretary of State and includes 230 turbines, 120km off the Norfolk coast.

Derek Barber, Swardeston Parish Council chairman, said: "Speaking as a villager the fire safety aspect is worrying."

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He added the council and villagers accept the need for renewable energy and a Hornsea Three substation which will be built on the field between the proposed battery plants.

Conservative district councillor, Gerald Frances, said: "There are concerns with how safe this battery bank is. It needs to be looked into deeper."

South Norfolk Conservative MP Richard Bacon Photo: UK Parliament

South Norfolk Conservative MP Richard Bacon - Credit: UK Parliament

Richard Bacon, South Norfolk Conservative MP, said: "I'm concerned. Councillors have raised important questions we need to know the answers to.

"We need alternative sources of energy but we need to address safety concerns of large battery storage units."

Ørsted said the Hornsea Three would produce enough electricity to meet the daily needs of two million homes and reassured neighbours.

A statement in the application read: "Safety measures include safety testing, monitoring of battery cells during operation, careful design of containers to prevent a fire occurring or spreading should a fire happen and a level of separation between the containers to further prevent any fire spreading."

It added: "Once mitigation measures are taken into account, it is unlikely a fire would occur at all.

"There have been significant advances in battery technology itself and safety and detection systems. Feedback is important to us and we will continue to engage with local stakeholders.”