Power plant raises concerns about drinking water contamination

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  • Company says diesel-powered facility between Rowlands Castle and Horndean will help stop power cuts
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SERIOUS concerns have been raised about contamination of the public water supply amid plans to build a power plant in the countryside.

Opus Reserve Power LTD of Cornwall have applied for planning permission to build a 20MW ‘flexible electricity generation unit’ at Blendworth Common, just north of Havant Thicket, between the B2149 and the A3(M).

The facility would operate on diesel and would help build up resilience against power shortages, which are predicted in the next two years due to the decommissioning of coal-fired power stations nationally.

But the Environment Agency has objected to the plans because the power plant would potentially sit above aquifers that supply drinking water for the Portsmouth area.

And it is near to the new 700-home Hazleton estate being built to the north.

Malcolm Johnson, the councillor for Rowlands Castle, said: ‘There is a concern about the storage of significant quantities of diesel.

‘That area is a significant part of Portsmouth Water’s catchment area and way down are aquifers that feed into the boreholes at Bedhampton.

‘Portsmouth Water is extremely concerned about the impact of the development in that area for obvious reasons.’

He added: ‘It’s the wrong thing in the wrong place.’

A statement submitted to East Hampshire District Council from the Environment Agency said: ‘The application includes the installation of four 40,000-litre above-ground diesel storage tanks at the site, which will be used to power the 10 generators.

‘We’re concerned that any spillages or leaks of diesel (a hazardous substance) into the ground could result in the rapid transport of diesel into groundwater and cause pollution.’

Concerns have also been raised about a new access road on the busy B2149 and potential noise.

One resident wrote to the council concerned about the ‘aroma’ of diesel exhaust gases downwind of the plant.

But a report submitted on behalf of the applicant said the plant would only run 150 hours out of 8,756 hours per year.

It could be started within two minutes to help prevent power cuts.

Glenn Crocker, senior planning consultant, wrote: ‘The facility as a whole is discreetly sited with minimal environmental impact, both in terms of visual, traffic and amenity considerations.’

The council will make a final decision at a later date.