Plans For Industrial Batteries in Swardeston Raise Fire Safety Fears

Proposals for industrial batteries to be placed in a field on the outskirts of a village have raised concerns about fire safety.

The facility, which is planned for a 35-acre field in Swardeston, Norfolk, would store energy from wind turbines to power homes at times of high demand. But Swardeston Parish Council said it had “grave concerns” about the use of lithium ion batteries at the site.

Offshore windfarm company Orsted said safety was its highest priority. A decision is due to be made by South Norfolk Council on 11 January, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

If approved, the project will mean energy generated by Orsted’s Hornsea Three offshore wind farm could be stored at the new site using lithium ion batteries. From there it will be fed into the National Grid on calmer days when turbines are not turning enough.

Hornsea Three was given the go-ahead in 2020 by the secretary of state and included 230 turbines, 120km off the Norfolk coast.

Swardeston Parish Council said there were “growing safety concerns” regarding the use of lithium ion batteries and the surrounding technology being a fire risk.

Norfolk Fire Service did not raise any concerns about the development and said it did not have any objections.

Planning officials at South Norfolk Council have recommended the scheme for approval and said it met national and local planning policies.

“Whilst the site is currently undeveloped greenfield land, the site is proposed to be developed in combination with the Hornsea Three substation which was approved,” officials said.

The wind farm plan will see cables on the seafloor carry power to the coast at Weybourne.

There it will be transmitted via a huge cable trench, around 35 miles (56km) long, to Swardeston and connect to the National Grid and the battery storage.

At 2.4GW and able to power three million homes, Hornsea Three is one of the biggest offshore wind farm projects in the world.