An aerial shot of the site of the Cleve Hill Solar Park. Image: Quinbrook.
An aerial shot of the site of the Cleve Hill Solar Park. Image: Quinbrook.

Cleve Hill Solar Park has confirmed that Swale Borough Council’s planning committee refused the project’s proposed battery safety management plan (BSMP), not the full battery energy storage application.

Despite reports by the BBC indicating that the council had rejected the battery storage application, the project’s developers confirmed that it had received planning permission via the project’s development consent order (DCO), granted in May 2020.

Cleve Hill Solar Park submitted the BSMP to the Council to discharge Requirement 3, Battery Safety Management of the Cleve Hill Solar Park DCO, it told Solar Power Portal.

The BSMP sets out how the solar park team will manage the safety of the energy storage element of the solar park during its lifespan, including the construction, operational and decommissioning stages.

The Cleve Hill project went into construction in April 2023, and investor Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners has described the facility as the UK’s “largest solar and battery energy storage project”. It is in Kent and is expected to be fully completed by the end of the year.

Throughout its lifetime, the Cleve Hill Solar Park has faced significant public opposition and an attempt by Swale Borough Council to get its development consent overturned. The energy secretary eventually granted consent in May 2020.

Residents raise fears over the use of lithium ferrophosphate batteries

According to previous coverage by the BBC, local residents feared using lithium ferrophosphate (LFP) batteries to store energy because they are “more subject to explosion risk than other types”.

Alongside this, the primary cause for the rejection of the safety management plan was a “lack of water storage facilities on site, a lack of access to the battery storage area, and the lack of an evacuation plan”.

Solar Power Portal’s publisher Solar Media will host the UK Solar Summit on 4-5 June 2024 in London. The event will explore the UK’s new landscape for utility and rooftop solar, looking at the opportunities within a GW+ annual market and much more. For more information, go to the website.