Move to re-open oil storage tanks at Redcliffe Bay approved
By Prue_Reid | Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 16:08
CONTROVERSIAL plans to bring back into use defunct fuel tanks at a Portishead oil storage depot have been approved - despite concerns from residents.
The oil storage site at Portishead
North Somerset Council north area planning committee had initially refused an application by the Oil and Pipelines Agency for a hazardous substance consent to open an additional three tanks at its fuel storage depot at Redcliffe Bay.
But councillors on the authority's planning and regulatory committee - which had to rubber stamp the decision - have now granted approval, despite concerns from local residents.
Councillors said if approval was refused, the matter could be referred to the planning inspectorate which was likely to approve it, risking the authority being landed with legal costs.
Currently there are 13 tanks on site but only five are used to store aviation fuel which is pumped to airports around the country.
There are also two 'slop' tanks on the site - which currently have no consent - which are used to store waste fuel products.
The additional tanks will see the amount of kerosene stored at the tanks rise 21,000 tonnes to 55,000 tonnes.
The application prompted concerns from local residents and councillors who said the application lacked vital information and there had been little or no consultation.
They also feared that any increase in the amount of fuel stored at the site also posed a greater risk of an incident.
Portishead Town Council also wrote to North Somerset Council - who as the hazardous substances authority is responsible for ensuring hazardous materials are stored safely - asking for consent to be refused on safety grounds.
The Health and Safety Executive said it had carried out a detailed assessment of the site and the risks from increasing the number of tanks at the site were so small that there was no significant reason for refusing the application on safety grounds.
Some councillors sitting on the planning and regulatory committee, who had previously voted for the application to be refused, stood their ground and once again asked for the application to be thrown out.
Portishead councillor David Pasley said: "I am still very unhappy about many safety aspects of this site and feel that permission should not be granted when so many questions remain unanswered."
OPA officials said the additional tanks are needed back in operation due to an increase in demand for fuel from airports.
And they added that the additional tanks did not increase the risk to the environment and local residents.
Planning and regulatory committee chairman, Councillor Ian Porter, said: "The health and safety executive has deemed the area as safe.
"It would be difficult for the council to defend a decision to refuse the application at any appeal on this basis."
The fuel is brought to Royal Portbury Dock by sea tanker, and pumped up to the storage tanks at Redcliffe Bay and Hallen.
It is then pumped through an underground pipe network to several commercial airports throughout the country.
The underground pipeline runs under Portbury, through parts of Portishead - including through the grounds of Gordano School - and up to Redcliffe Bay.
The depot was originally built by the Ministry of Defence in the 1950's to store fuel for military purposes and laid vacant for a number of years before being re commissioned in 2005.