Residents in north Kerry are outraged this week over a decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for a battery storage compound in their area.

The advancement comes on the back of a decision made last October by the local authority to grant planning permission to Knocknagoum Wind Farm Limited of Lissarda Business Park, Lissarda, Co. Cork, for a development at Muingnaminnane in the north of the county.

An application for the battery storage facility was subsequently made and members of the community raised concerns about pollution, health and safety in the area as a direct result of the compound.

Speaking to AgriLand Fred O’Sullivan – chairman of the Ballinahulla Battery Awareness Group in west Kerry – said there was huge disappointment across the county over An Bord Pleanála’s decision.

“There is a lack of understanding about battery storage facilities,” he said, before pointing to the “huge implications” there were on human health as a result.

“There are huge implications on health and well-being – from these facilities – on people that live close to them,” he continued.

“This particular one in north Kerry is within a 2km radius of a creche, church and local school – that is not good.”

‘Fire and smog’

O’Sullivan went on to say that it takes 36 hours for a lithium battery to burn out –  in circumstances where a fire breaks out, and that thereafter, a dangerous smog emerges.

“This results in the evacuation of people living close to the facility from their homes for up to three days,” he added.

Meanwhile, the development comprises a battery storage compound, with up to 10 container units, associated electrical equipment, and transformers on a 0.5ha site opposite the North Kerry Landfill site which closed to the public in 2014.

Batteries and the future

Separately, speaking to AgriLand earlier this year, Justin Moran head of communications and public affairs at the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) said that as Ireland endeavours to reach its renewable energy targets “battery technology will be necessary”.

Batteries are going to have to be built somewhere in this country between now and then because batteries balance out the wind, and the solar for that matter, on the system.

“Planning processes are already underway for battery technology in this country,” he concluded.