By Conor Forrest
CONCERN about the potential for a massive fire and explosions from a huge battery storage facility planned for Dunnstown, Co Kildare has led local residents to call for the planning application for the project to be turned down.
The rural communities of Coughlanstown, Dunnstown, Dunshane, Flemington, Harristown, Mullacash, Two Mile House and surrounding areas are calling on the public to join them in opposing the planning applications for both a compound of 76 large scale battery storage units at Dunnstown and the building of a new substation.
Strategic Power Projects Limited is seeking permission from Kildare Co Council to build a facility which will encompass land in Dunnstown, at a site opposite the Dunshane Camphill Community residential home. The company has also lodged a pre-application request with An Bord Pleanala for a 220 kV substation with connection to the grid.
Concerned members of this rural borough, which lies halfway between Kilcullen and Naas, have until 9 June to lodge their objections to the development with the council.
Residents from the area have voiced deep concerns about both the short-term and the long-term ecological, hydrological, social and environmental effects of the development in the quiet, rural setting, with fire hazard and safety implications top of the list.
Spokesperson for the movement, local man Conor Maguire, said:“We wish to be very clear in our objective here. We are not opposed to the planning for sustainable energy provision, and we are keenly aware of the urgent need for reaching sustainable energy targets. However, there are real and tangible concerns within our widespread community that must be addressed, not least with regards to safety.
“The submitted plans are for 76 enormous battery storage units, each of which houses tens of thousands of lithium-ion cells.
“There has been a troubling frequency of decimating fires linked to lithium-ion batteries, that have occurred in the US, UK, South Korea and Australia. These are no ordinary fires due to the chemical make-up of the batteries; the blazes are not easily treated, need specialist expertise to manage and can take days to get under control.”
He claimed that “the planning application was made without due correspondence to locals and when we reached out to the developer for further information, we were acerbically informed to look at the Kildare Co Council website. Whilst the application was made on 6 May, the public could only access the plans on the 19th [of] May. The 9 June deadline will not be extended, which has further frustrated our apprehension,” he said.
“The immediate vicinity of the proposed Dunnstown development is a renowned local amenity, frequented on a daily basis by walkers, horse-riders, joggers and cyclists from all surrounding areas – young and old. Two Mile House GAA is located just metres away and we are concerned about the safety of youngsters travelling to and from the club, during and post development. Tranquil and biodiverse, the area is host to a rich ecology, a haven for a variety of native species spanning deer, bats, frogs, birds of prey, flowers and fauna. We want to protect all of this. The local roads are in areas single lane only; any construction traffic would raise further daily health and safety issues.
“Furthermore, the rapid onset of BESS [Battery Energy Storage System] across rural Ireland are cause for grave concern. We call on Government and the local authorities across Ireland to set clear policy on planning rules for such developments, restricting them to industrial zones, where there is less impact on rural Ireland and residential areas.”
The growing public opposition has prompted the set-up of a ‘Two Mile House Says No’ movement with a GoFundMe page established. Concerned members of the public are invited to email their fears to [email protected], while a Twitter channel (@TMHsaysno) and a Facebook page (facebook.com/twomilehousesays.no) have also been set up.