Express & Star

Energy company responds to residents' outrage over controversial battery storage site plans

An energy company has responded to claims made by a group about the creation of a battery storage site.

Chiltern Green Energy have given a response to residents on New Road regarding what it described as misinformation around plans for a battery site. Photo: Google Street Map

Chiltern Green Energy made a statement about what it described as 'misinformation' on social media, particularly around safety and noise, and following outrage from residents over plans for the battery storage site, which would be on land off New Road in Featherstone.

The campaign group No 2 Featherstone Batteries has spoken out against being given very little notice about the plans, fears of noise pollution and the dangers of fires at the site.

In response, a spokesman for Chiltern Green Energy said the company had already conducted a pre-application consultation and met with councillors to talk about plans for an application which, they said, hadn't been submitted yet.

The spokesman said: "There has been much misinformation put about on local Featherstone social media regarding the application, especially around safety and noise.

"We have already conducted a pre-application consultation to help inform our plans and have met with councillors that represent the area at a parish and district level to ensure an open dialogue from the outset.

"We would also point out that the application has not yet been submitted."

The spokesman also said that the company was doing its best to keep any impact on the area to a minimum and spoke about the need to understand why battery storage was necessary, as well as responding to concerns from residents.

He said: "It is important to understand the fundamental need for battery storage as a means of supporting increased green energy production and ensuring that future demand for electricity is met.

"In response to some of the residents’ concerns and misinformation that has been posted and to put fire safety into context, in mid-2023, there were 239 sites in the UK providing battery storage systems, managing 2.9GW of energy.

"These are estimated to have involved in excess of 4,000 battery containers.

"There is a record of one of these battery containers being subject to a fire incident since their introduction, which was more than three years ago, since when the safety of batteries, and regulations to control them, have improved."

The spokesman said that Chiltern Green Energy took safety very seriously, including fire risk, and said an Outline Safety Management Plan would be set out to accompany the planning application.

He said: "With regards noise generation, it is entirely reasonable that local residents should not be subject to unacceptable noise pollution from the proposed scheme.

"To ensure acceptable noise levels can be achieved and enforced by way of condition, a noise impact appraisal will accompany the forthcoming planning application setting out details in this respect."

There was also a response to concerns residents had around the site being near to housing.

The spokesman said: "A number of those opposed to the scheme have suggested that there are better sites (further away from housing) that should be considered before this one.

"In identifying the application site, we undertook a major land search of alternative sites in the area, but no appropriate alternatives were identified.

"Details of this process are included in an alternative site assessment document which will accompany the application."

The spokesman finished by talking about the next steps for residents and the parish council to see plans and a consultation phase.

The spokesman said: "There will of course be every opportunity once the application is submitted to South Staffs District Council for residents to see the plans in full and be able to comment during that process.

"We have also offered the parish council a static display of the plans at the Featherstone Community Centre so that residents can see the plans in a non-online presentation."