Lawyer in oil depot fight

A LEGAL expert is to be appointed to fight off plans to re-open a defunct oil storage depot in Flax Bourton. Parish councillors have agreed to appoint

A LEGAL expert is to be appointed to fight off plans to re-open a defunct oil storage depot in Flax Bourton.Parish councillors have agreed to appoint a specialist planning lawyer to draw up a battle plan to block moves by the Oil and Pipeline Agency to re-open the fuel storage depot at Station Road.The depot would link to an underground network of pipes which feed aviation fuel to military air bases across the country.Previously storage depots were covered by Crown Immunity rules which meant, because they were owned by the Ministry of Defence, no permission was needed to operate them.But a change in Government legislation now means the MOD has to apply for consent to store hazardous substances.The depot, which was built in the 1950s as a reserve site, was closed down in the 1990s.Flax Bourton Parish Council chairman Roger Higgins said: "The people of Flax Bourton do not want this depot to re-open."They have many concerns including the fact it is just a few hundred metres away from the village school."When the school relocated from its old site, the depot had been decommissioned."The fact they want to open it again really does raise many concerns among the residents."Local people voiced their concerns at a public meeting earlier this month and overwhelmingly backed the council's move to employ a planning lawyer to state Cllr Higgins added: "This is the sort of issue where the parish council decided it needed professional advice."There are 11 tanks on the site, all of which would be completely refurbished before they were brought back into use. Security at the site would also be massively upgraded.A spokesman for the Oil and Pipelines Agency said: "We have been managing these storage facilities for a number of years and they are designed to a military standard."The tanks are extremely robust and designed to withstand a bomb blast and we will ensure they are 100 per cent fit for purpose before being used to store oil."The spokesman said that tankers would be accessing the site to supply fuel to local bases, but only on a limited basis.

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