PROPOSALS for an energy storage system in Fishcross have been given the green light with a safety management plan to be approved.

The plans for the 25MW battery energy storage system and associated infrastructure at Bankhead Farm were approved by elected members on Clackmannanshire Council's Planning Committee on May 2.

The system will store energy generated by wind farms in the Ochils to support the grid during periods of high demand and will be located across the road from a substation just to the west of the village.

During the meeting, it was highlighted that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), as well as the council's Emergency Planning Unit, will be involved in designing the final layout to help manage risks.

Cllr Kenny Earle raised a concern regarding the risks, highlighting how a battery recycling centre went up in flames in Kilwinning this April.

“There was a major fire and one of the houses, that's closest to the fire, was only 50m away from the site”, he said.

“Can we have an exclusion zone around the site of not 50m but 100m?”

Responding, an officer explained safety requirements will be looked at both by SFRS, who have experience elsewhere, and the council.

The officer added: “I think that's a strong reassurance, that there has to be a design that is safe for everybody.

“In terms of the proximity of any houses, [the nearest] in Fishcross is about 200m away.”

The facility will be decommissioned after 40 years, understood to be the useful lifespan of the development.

Cllr Fiona Law sought to make sure that guarantees are in place to ensure the council is not bearing the cost of any issues with the decommissioning.

A planning officer said the council could re-charge costs through enforcement while the legal officer said decommissioning or reinstatement bonds are often in place for these types of developments.

They added: “You could ask for them to exhibit a copy of the decommissioning and reinstatement bond.

“If they haven't got one – I am not sure what the ability of the council would be, in terms of a planning authority, to insist on it but it could be a question we ask them.”

Cllr Donald Balsillie sought to ensure the community receives a benefit for putting up with the development, as is often the case with wind farms.

He launched a motion to add a condition that a percentage of the development's value is contributed towards public art but this was eventually withdrawn after discussions highlighted the condition could be challenged in an appeal.

The sentiment was supported, Cllr Jane McTaggart adding: “I don't think it's unreasonable to ask people who are coming in and disrupting the county, wherever that might be, that they should expect to provide a bit of community benefit.”

It was agreed that the council would engage with the developers on matters of community benefit, noise impact on wildlife and any reinstatement bonds.