Councillors fear Grenfell Tower-style catastrophe as fuel stored near homes

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 August 2018

Tanks 14 and 15 are located yards away from homes in Waterside Park. Picture: Google

Tanks 14 and 15 are located yards away from homes in Waterside Park. Picture: Google

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North Somerset Council could have a ‘Grenfell Tower situation’ on its hands if it continues to allow highly-flammable fuel to be stored just metres away from homes in Portishead, according to members.

Redcliffe Bay Fuel Depot, in Down Road, stores kerosine in two tanks which are located on the edge of the site closest to houses in Waterside Park.

In 2012, the site contained 13 tanks but an application to open three more was successful.

Neighbours believed the firm was incorrect to store the potentially dangerous substance within 10 metres of houses, but the company stated its processes were safe.

The firm is applying for permission to change what it says is a previous planning oversight.

At North Somerset Council’s planning and regulatory committee meeting on August 8 councillors agreed to undertake an on-site meeting before deciding whether to support the application.

Cllr Chris Blades said: “We could have another Grenfell Tower situation on our hands if we do not do anything.

“If there was a fire we would have to justify why we granted permission.”

Cllr John Ley-Morgan added: “The buck will stop with us and it could have catastrophic effects in the future if we make the wrong decision.”

Each tank contains a minimum of 40 tonnes of kerosene and homeowners say the tankers should be moved elsewhere within the depot and away from a built-up residential area.

The site was originally built by the Ministry of Defence in the 1950s, but modifications on the storage units have not been carried out since 2002.

The planning officer’s report states tanks 14 and 15 shall not exceed 608 metric tonnes in total and the entrance tunnel shall be blocked and replaced.

It also notes the use of the tanks ‘should not continue unless the amendments are made to the bund and entrance to the service tunnel’.

Dozens of objections have been submitted to the council.

Portishead town councillor Marilyn Koops, who lives in Waterside Park said: “We have a duty of care to the residents, safety regulations have changed significantly in recent years.

“Having this kind of activity so close to people’s homes is unacceptable.”

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