A NEW law will be put forward to Parliament to make battery storage facilities less of a danger to people and the environment

Basingstoke's MP Maria Miller intervention comes following planning permission being granted for a new lithium battery storage facility in Basing Fenn next to Basingstoke town centre, a local hospital, and within meters of the River Loddon – one of the major tributaries to the River Thames.

As the county switches to renewable sources of energy, lithium-ion battery storage is set to be an essential part of the UK energy supply system. This new technology is designed to store excess electricity created by renewables so that it can be released into the national grid when required. However, these units have become the subject of international concern following a series of catastrophic fires at battery storage plants in countries where such technology is already widely used.  

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Ms Miller said: "Switching to renewable energy is essential but it has to be safe. Lithium batteries contain hazardous substances and need to be categorised appropriately, to ensure the correct planning processes are used. My change in the law would correctly categorise industrial lithium-ion battery storage plants as involving hazardous substances. The effect of this would be that any planning consent would require advice from the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency on the risks to people and the surrounding environment. 

"The Environment Agency has already confirmed to me that their current environmental permits do not include conditions to address what they describe as the ‘valid concerns’ about the potential impacts of battery fires."

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The number of industrial lithium-ion batteries facilities in the UK are due to grow exponentially over the coming years and industry experts, fire chiefs and academics have warned that current regulations fail to consider the potential hazards that they pose.

As a result, on September 7, Ms Miller will be presenting a bill in Parliament, in which she will urge the government to introduce stricter planning measures to minimise the risks associated with these facilities.