Public protest over Hydrogen Plant proposal in Bridgend

PROTESTS have taken place outside the Bridgend Council offices in Angel Street this week, after a planning application to build a new hydrogen plant at Brynmenyn industrial estate was submitted to the county borough council earlier this year.

The demonstration lasted for around three hours before the council’s monthly Full Council meeting on June 21, and saw dozens of Bridgend residents making their voices heard about plans they say are unsuitable for their area.

The project, which has been named the HyBont Green Hydrogen Project, could see a hydrogen-powered plant built by Japanese 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 hydrogen produced there would be intended to supply transport users such as refuse collection vehicles, buses and light vehicles at the Brynmenyn refuelling station dispensers, as well as for heat for the Ynysawdre Cluster through a 1.2km underground pipe. The cluster includes Ysgol Gynradd Brynmenyn Primary School, Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen and Halo Ynysawdre Swimming Pool.

However, for many locals, they claim there are a number of concerns over the plans which they believe are based too close to housing at the nearby village of Bryncethin.

Jean Phillips lives in Bryncethin and said she still had some serious questions over the safety of the hydrogen plant.

She said: “We’ve turned up today because we need to let the council know how strongly we feel about these proposals. It’s too close to the houses and it’s not being built in the right place as far as we are concerned.

“My main concern is the health and safety risks here because if there is a leak from this plant or the associated pipes it would be in my house in less five minutes, and a large number of other people’s along with it. I agree with going green but I don’t agree with having it so close to houses and businesses as it’s too dangerous.”

Julie Jones owns a café nearby and added: “I’ve lived in Brynmenyn for 30 years so it was important for me to be here today. If anything happened at this site, with it being so close to the houses we would all be very close to the blast and it’s crazy to have it here in my opinion. We can only hope now that councillors listen to our concerns and don’t take this forward from the planning stage.”

Phil and Christine Jones also live nearby and said in their opinion the negative points of constructing the plant would outweigh the positives if the project was approved.

Phil said: “We think the plant is a bad idea and we really don’t want it to go ahead. For us living so close we feel we would be constantly worrying about an emergency situation, as well as a range of other issues.

“There would be a huge amount of traffic coming in and out to build the plant, as well as those coming in to refuel once it’s completed and we don’t have the road infrastructure to support that. We also worry that it could have a detrimental effect on the value of the properties in the area with a plant like this being so close.”

Lawrence Till was one of the organisers of the protest in the town and said: “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. We are also concerned over whether or not the councillors who will be making decisions on this application have the full and accurate information before they are discussed.”

The comment came after Councillor Hywel Williams, of Blackmill, apologised to members of the community, after claiming pipes at the proposed site would not have hydrogen contained within them, during a public meeting.

At the full council meeting he said: “I recently attended a public meeting to gather information first hand so that I may understand what concerns residents held regarding the HyBont proposal. My understanding at the time was that the only by-product to be piped off-site would be excess hot water used to help heat local community facilities.

“Following the meeting I asked for clarification regarding the Hydrogen pipeline. I have now learned that my original understanding was wrong and alongside a heat network of water pipes there is a proposal to include a hydrogen pipeline to supply a hydrogen boiler for schools and other buildings around Ynysawdre.

He added: “It is only right I offer an unreserved apology for any upset or anxiety my actions may have caused. The HyBont project still has many stages to pass through and I am confident there will be an open and transparent process to address the concerns of residents.”

A council spokesman added: “Bridgend County Borough Council encourages people to express their views on the proposals for creating a new green hydrogen facility at Brynmenyn Industrial Estate, and we were pleased to welcome the residents to our public gallery where they were able to observe yesterday’s meeting of council as it took place.

“Given the complexity of the Hybont plans, we are also urging people to familiarise themselves with all of the facts behind the proposal, and you can find out more by visiting”

A statement from George Dodd, senior vice-president at Marubeni Europower said: “The site has been selected due to its proximity to potential end users within the Brynmenyn Industrial Estate, such as the bus depot, and because of the potential it allows for a district heat network, providing low carbon heating to nearby community buildings. The site is also close to the proposed solar farm at Bryncethin, allowing a direct power connection to provide green electricity.

“Hydrogen, in line with hydrocarbons such as petrol and natural gas, is covered by international codes, regulations and standards to ensure its safe production, storage, transportation and use.

“Safety is of paramount importance, and there are a wide range of safety measures incorporated into the design of the different components of the green hydrogen production and refuelling facility to prevent hydrogen leaks and potential ignition.

“For example, as hydrogen is the lightest element on earth, in the unlikely event of a leak it would travel upwards and disperse rather than “creeping” along the ground like heavier gases. For this reason, there will not be a building or roof over the storage or production areas. Therefore, in the unlikely event of a leakage, gas will escape upwards into the atmosphere and dissipate.

“Each of the hydrogen storage tanks will be surrounded by fire walls so, in the unlikely event of a fire, the fire will be contained and will not spread to the other storage tanks. The fire walls will act as a physical barrier to protect the hydrogen storage and production areas from external hazards.

“Green hydrogen refers to hydrogen produced from renewable sources rather than fossil fuels, meaning it has a low carbon footprint. The solar farm proposed at Bryncethin will generate up to 5.5MW to power the green hydrogen production. The remaining renewable energy needed will be sourced from windfarms via the national grid.

“Green hydrogen has been identified as a key solution to decarbonise the energy system, and the HyBont project would contribute to the council and Government’s aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Traffic Impact Assessments have been carried out, with potential impacts during construction and operation being assessed and mitigation measures identified, where appropriate.

“Once the green hydrogen facility at Brynmenyn is operational, 56 large vehicle trips (28 inbound and 28 outbound) – comprising single decker buses, refuse collection vehicles and HGVs – and 10 staff movements (5 inbound and 5 outbound) are anticipated each day.

“This is not considered a significant impact, especially as most of the large vehicle trips associated with this development will already be on the surrounding network; as the vehicles refuelling are expected to be refuse collection vehicles and potentially public buses.”

You cannot copy any content of this page