Renewable energy plant bosses issue safety warning after people seen climbing on 35 feet high straw stacks

The owners of Sleaford’s straw-burning renewable energy plant has warned against the public endangering themselves by venturing onto their straw storage sites.

Renewable energy plant bosses issue safety warning after people seen climbing on 35 feet high straw stacks

By Andy Hubbert

In order to keep the Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant running all day and night, owners Greencoat Capital have a small number of strategic storage sites (SSSs) for the straw that is the main fuel for the plant.

Ina statement on their website they explain: “We draw from these sites, located on farms or disused airfields, on a daily basis to supplement the onsite straw storage hangar that we have at the plant.

“At the SSSs, the straw is baled and stored in stacks which are as high as 10 metres (35 feet). 

“We have a strict safety and security regime at each of the SSSs, which are on private land and so public access is forbidden. The straw storage activities on each of our sites (or indeed any straw storage area) present a variety of hazards, the main ones being vehicle movements (lorries, telehandlers, tractors/trailers) and the large stacks of straw bales themselves.”

They said that recently they have noticed people walking or riding across their sites, with some people seen climbing the straw stacks which they warn is extremely dangerous.

The company adds: “We are concerned that – quite apart from the fact that access is strictly speaking trespass – those that stray onto our sites are putting themselves at risk.

“Our storage team take every precaution to construct and maintain the stacks so that they are stable and robust, but they can and occasionally do suffer from partial collapse; straw is a natural material of varying consistency and is liable to change over time. For that reason, even when the SSSs are not being actively worked, access to the public remains prohibited.

“The team work extremely hard to ensure the straw stacks are created in a way that will keep them safe, but there is always potential for a stack to collapse – sometimes without warning.”

With bales weighing over half a tonne each, they said that falling bales can cause injury or death and climbing on stacks presents the obvious danger of falling from the top of a stack, risking severe injury or death.

They added: “We ask people to please avoid entering our SSSs. Access is prohibited as a matter of public safety. Designated footpaths are clearly marked, and there are warning signs in place which must be observed.”

Originally published at Sleaford standard