A COMPANY facing strong opposition to its plans to store 37 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas close to a busy A14 junction has reduced its planned capacity to 25 tonnes – which doesn’t require permission from the local authorities.

Campaigners against Amber Real Estates Limited's intended storage of the volatile fuel are furious that the owners of the site can now store the fuel apparently free of increased constraints. The 25 tonnes is at the maximum level permitted by the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990.

Anything over that amount and further restrictions - and a requirement for permissions from the likes of Huntingdonshire District Council and the Highways Authority would be needed.

Fenstanton resident Ian Taylor is a former chairman of the Association for Petroleum and Explosives Administration. His home is 850m from the proposed storage site and, he claims, in harms way should anything go wrong at the site.

He said: "This is the cavalier attitude of the company. These people seem not to be taking into consideration the safety concerns. It's outrageous. No consideration whatsoever has been given to the people surrounding the area."

Mr Taylor added: "If they want to store that much, I think it should go below ground. Its as volatile as petroleum, it really is wicked stuff."

The Health and Safety Executive would insist on stricter conditions if hazardous substance consent had been required. LPG deliveries would be limited to 18 tonnes per vehicle and the number of deliveries restricted below 100 a year. And it insists that the tanks are connected in banks of six.

A spokesman for HSE said: "There is no law that stipulates petroleum must be stored underground and LPG above ground. The key point is that it must be stored safely. The amount means it is below the threshold at which it would fall into the control of major hazard (COMAH) regulations."

Brian Barrow, of Acorus Rural Property Services in Bury St Edmunds, which is acting as AREI's agent, said they were still trying to "suss out" the application.

He told The Hunts Post: "We still have the same application, for three banks of six tanks. We have had an objection from the Highways Agency so we are trying to suss out how best to work around that. They are concerned about the distance to the A14 and the HSE has been looking into whether the site is suitable or not. Its all a bit strange because we could have two banks of six tanks and not need consent so we are trying to see if the owner could make do with two banks, having 12 tanks on site instead of 18, but they would require filling up more often."

What is LPG?

LPG is used as a fuel in a range of applications including in heating and cooking appliances, industrial applications, in vehicles and as a propellant and refrigerant. LPG can be obtained primarily as propane, butane or a mixture of the two. A powerful odorant is added so that it is easily detected.

LPG is flammable and heavier than air so that it will settle and may accumulate in low spots such drains and basements. Here it could present a fire or explosion or suffocation hazard.

LPG is supplied in a variety of ways including in canisters, cylinders and in bulk storage tanks. This part of the HSE website concentrates mainly on safety issues relating to small bulk storage and associated installations but provides links to information available on other aspects of the safe use of LPG.