Statera will argue that they will take steps to prevent a fire or explosion and that such an event is unlikely, but they cannot state that this will never happen. When organisations assess risk using a risk management matrix, they give a score for probability, then a score for impact, and multiple one by the other. Even if the probability is low, it is possible, as evidence from around the world has demonstrated. The impact of a fire and explosion would be immense for the local population, therefore the overall risk score is high.
The best mitigating action to reduce this risk is to build the BESS away from densely populated areas but this has financial implications for Statera, who are, after all, a private business looking to make a profit. They want to be right next to the Chickerell substation so that connecting to the National Grid involves minimal expense to them. The price though, to local people is way too high if something goes wrong.
We are therefore campaigning for Dorset Council to refuse planning permission for this site on the grounds of risk to public health and safety.
We oppose the development of an industrial scale solar factory on farmland between Hardy’s Monument and Chickerell – extending to the East right up to the edge of Upwey, and to the West almost to the coast road, because it would devastate the countryside turning a green and diverse landscape into a sea of black glass and plastic.
It will cover the same footprint as the entire town of Dorchester! No one would ever grant permission for a whole new County Town to be built in Green Belt land so why should this proposal go ahead?
Worryingly, local planners have no say in the decision making associated with this – it is classified as a "Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project” (NSIP) which means that Grant Shapps and politicians within the government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will sit up in London and decide the fate of our local environment.
It is important to state here that we are not campaigning against solar energy generation, but what we want to see is a sensitive and sensible policy for solar panels on every roof before we plaster the landscape in black plastic. Only 2.7% of eligible roofs in the UK currently have panels on them!
Productive farmland should not be used for solar farms when there are 250,000 hectares of unused, south-facing commercial roofs in the UK.
This, like the BESS, has an economic element to it. It is much more complicated to ensure that all people, whether tenants or homeowners, can access affordable solar panels for their homes and businesses, and much easier for the government to load up its money cannon and fire it at big private companies to help them achieve their net carbon zero aspirations at scale and pace.
Lastly, any power generated goes straight into the National Grid – it is therefore a myth that there would be any benefit to local people in terms of reducing energy costs.