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Residents in Bridgend respond to proposals for new Hydrogen plant

Hybont Hydrogen Public Meeting

RESIDENTS in Bridgend have responded to proposals to build a new Hydrogen plant at Brynmenyn industrial estate this week, after a planning application was submitted to the county borough council earlier this year.

The project which has been named the HyBont Green Hydrogen Project could see a Hydrogen powered plant built by developers Marubeni on Brynmenyn industrial estate.

If given the go-ahead it would include a hydrogen production facility with electrolysers that generate hydrogen from electrical power by splitting water, along with hydrogen storage, and a hydrogen refuelling station on the land.

The site is currently owned by Bridgend County Borough Council and would also include a hydrogen storage facility, a hydrogen refuelling station, and back-up generator.

Land near Brynmenyn Industrial Estate where the Hydrogen Facility could be built (pic: Google Maps)

Developers say hydrogen produced at the site would be used to supply local refuse collection vehicles, buses and light vehicles at the Brynmenyn refuelling station dispensers. Hydrogen would also be used to heat Coleg y Dderwen, Brynmenyn Primary School and Ynysawdre Sports Centre through a connected  pipe.

However, for some local residents there is opposition to these plans with many concerned over the location of the site being so close to a nearby housing estate.

It resulted in a public meeting being set up this week by residents in the village of Bryncethin to discuss what they feel could be an unwanted addition to their neighbourhood.

Cllr Tim Thomas said: “I have met with many residents living in the area over the last few months about worries they have around the impact a hydrogen plant could cause if it is given the go ahead.

“We set up a public meeting in Bryncethin Memorial Hall for people to express their views, and had a massive response from locals with more than 200 residents turning up on the night.

“Issues raised included concerns with public safety, with houses in Bryncethin being so close to the plant, clarity on what could happen in the case of an emergency, as well as the potential for large volumes of traffic that would cause congestion in the area.

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“We listened to a number of speakers and as a result I’m anticipating a huge amount of objections to this proposal and would encourage people to get them sent in to the planning committee so that they can better understand the level of public concern we have around this.”

Shaun Morgan 57, lives in Bryncethin and says he felt the proposals were not right for the area. He said: “As a resident I think we are all for the development of green and renewable energy but at the same time there is no need for this type of facility to be so close to where we live.

“There are plenty of other places it could be located, out of the way of built up areas, with houses only around 50 metres away. As well as safety concerns there would also be a big increase in traffic with vehicles coming to refuel here and most people I’ve spoken to are against it.”

Local business owner Lawrence Till added: “I was surprised by the large turn out for the public meeting about the HyBont project. I have numerous concerns about the project including, health and safety, water and electricity supply, traffic impact, ecological effects and value for tax-payer’s money.”

When discussing potential safety issues, a report submitted as part of the planning application by Marubeni reads: “The emergency power supplies are yet to be defined but are anticipated to either be fuel cells, or batteries to enable safe shut-down of the facility.

“Provision for connection of a LV back-up generator will be made on the main LV switchboard, to provide the full auxiliary power load in the event of a site shut-down.  An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system will be provided to back-up the site control and emergency systems.”

With proposals for the hydrogen plant now submitted to the local council, the next stage will see it discussed  by a planning committee in the coming months. Cllr John Spanswick said all concerns submitted by residents would be heard by council members and officers before any decision was made however.

He said: “Any comments or objections surrounding the proposals for the HyBont hydrogen plant should now be submitted to the council’s planning portal, so officers can see all the views of residents before it goes before the development control committee for a decision.”