Residents concerned by plans for Carradale battery storage facility

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Two Carradale residents have spoken of their concerns about plans to build a battery storage facility beside the village’s pump station.

The proposal’s developer, Hamilton-based clean energy development company Intelligent Land Investments Group (ILIG), insists, however, that all the appropriate steps will be taken to ensure the facility, if built, is safe and has minimum impact on the surrounding area.

Sandy Dack, from Marchbank House, and Alan Barnett, from Low Moineruadh, independently contacted the Courier about a proposal of application notice submitted to Argyll and Bute Council for the construction of a battery storage facility up to 50MW, and associated works, on land south of Auchnasavil Farm, Carradale.

Proposal of application notices are not planning applications; rather, they advise of a potential future intention to submit a planning application for a ‘major’ development.

They set out developers’ proposals to undertake statutory pre-application consultations with communities and stakeholders in advance of any applications being submitted.

ILIG held a public consultation event about its plans for Carradale in the village hall on Thursday, November 4 but Mr Barnett did not find out until Saturday, November 6, two days after it had taken place.

Mr Dack was informed about the exhibition on the day it took place, from an ILIG representative who knocked on his door and asked to take photographs of the proposed site from his garden.

Both men feel more should have been done to bring the event to the community’s attention to enable as many residents as possible to take part in the consultation process.

‘Given the proximity of the proposed storage facility to the closest domestic dwellings it would be reasonable to assume that a company of the size and wealth of ILIG would know of these properties, and it would not have been beyond the realms of reasonable expectation forit to have made direct personal contact with the property owners,’ said Mr Barnett, who lives just a few hundred yards from the proposed site.

‘Its failure to do so constitutes a complete lack of interest by the large corporation for the average man in the street.’

Andrew Hughes, ILIG media and PR manager, said this week that the exhibition was advertised in advance in the Campbeltown Courier and with East Kintyre Community Council and, as a result, it was ‘well attended’.

Mr Dack, who was able to attend at short notice, said: ‘What we got from the exhibition was that Carradale was the easiest and cheapest location for the site, from a business point of view, and although there are other more suitable locations i.e. Crossaig…and other less residential/intrusive areas across Scotland, this would cost them more.’

He added that, in addition to a possible increase in traffic and large lorries ‘causing havoc’ on the roads and the impact of increased noise and light pollution, he was concerned about the site’s proposed location.

‘Our concerns are of the safety of the site which runs along the side of Carradale Water which frequently floods the surrounding fields,’ said Mr Dack.

‘In the event of an incident, explosive lithium batteries, water and electricity do not go well together. What measures would be in place to deal with it? Kintyre would not be able to cope.’

Mr Barnett, who is also concerned about noise and light pollution and additional traffic, added: ‘The local fire service situated in Carradale is manned by volunteers, and it is perfectly realistic to foresee a situation where they may not be available in the event of an emergency.

‘It would appear that the siting is purely down to cost with more concern being given to profits and little concern for the welfare of residents.

‘It is our opinion that this development should not go ahead at the current proposed site and that the less intrusive options at either the northwest area of Rhonadale Glen or Crossaig be utilised.’

Mr Hughes said: ‘The existing Carradale substation is the only place in Kintyre and Knapdale where the local electricity network that supplies homes and businesses interfaces with the national grid network, making this the best location for this facility.

‘The site is behind the existing substation from the closest houses to the south and these are some hundreds of metres away. The new equipment is only around three metres tall which is smaller than the existing electricity gear.

‘A significant area of new planting of native trees is proposed around the development to screen it, and this will also help to stabilise the riverbank and provide new habitat.

‘The project is sited above the area that floods, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the council will both be consulted on the proposals.

‘No visible lighting is planned except for use by maintenance staff when they are there. A noise assessment will be produced, showing the facility meets normal standards to avoid disturbance.

‘This will have to satisfy the council’s environmental health department. There will be some traffic during construction, but that can be carefully managed, and again the council’s roads department will be consulted.’

Mr Hughes added: ‘Scotland needs to decarbonise its electricity system. Renewable energy is intermittent. The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow when we need it to.

‘Historically, as a country, we have not been able to store the power for when we need it and have had to supplement renewable energy with gas peaking plants. It is therefore not possible to decarbonise the network without more energy storage.’

Mr Barnett said: ‘We are all aware of the need for an alternative to fossil fuels and wholeheartedly support initiatives which will help the environment, however, these alternatives need to consider the effect on those who reside in the areas where installations may be considered.’

The exhibition materials are available to view at any time on the project website at https://meetings.ili-energy.com/auchnasavil-energy-storage-project/

‘We are available by telephone, post or email for any other questions or comments,’ added Mr Hughes. ‘Indeed, we would encourage the public to engage with us because feedback can help shape the proposals, and this is in everyone’s interests.’

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson told the Courier the statutory pre-application consultation with the community and stakeholders, which must take place before a planning application is submitted, was carried out by ILIG in accordance with Scottish Government legislation.

The spokesperson added: ‘If a full planning application comes forward, it will follow the normal national processes which allow local stakeholders and residents to give their views.’