Hydrogen-fuelled buses due to be serving Crawley and Gatwick are unable to operate because of a planning delay due to safety concerns.

A service operated by Metrobus was launched last summer, but only up to 10 buses out of a fleet of 20 can operate each day because a new fuel store cannot be used.

The hydrogen refuelling station requires hazardous substances approval from Crawley Borough Council, but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has advised against the application due to “sufficiently high” risks.

Go-Ahead, which owns Metrobus, said it needed to convince the HSE and partners that the facility is safe.

‘Nearby school’

In a submission to council planners, HSE said it “concluded that the risks to the surrounding population arising from the proposed operation(s) are sufficiently high to justify advising against the granting of hazardous substances consent on grounds of safety”.

A HSE spokesman said: “Our detailed public safety assessment for the Crawley bus hydrogen filling station identified that hydrogen would be stored close to surrounding populations, including a nearby school.

“Our response to Crawley Borough Council (acting as the Hazardous Substances Authority) was to advise against the application.

“It is now for the Hazardous Substances Authority to make its final decision.”

Crawley Borough Council said: “Now that HSE comments on the hazardous substances consent application have been received, the local planning authority will conduct further detailed discussions.”

Martin Dean, managing director of Go-Ahead group regional bus division, which operates the buses, said: “We’ve got 20 hydrogen buses and we’re able to operate around 10 a day.

“At the moment, we’ve got a hydrogen facility for liquid hydrogen, but we haven’t got permission at the moment to operate it above a certain threshold.

“So the threshold of 2,000 kg (2 tonnes) is only available to be used and that means we’re very, very restricted.”

Mr Dean said the company could eventually have a fleet of nearly 100 buses operating from the site, as more projects are funded.

He said: “What we need to do is convince the HSE and our partners that this is safe facility that we can run in a safe manner.”

‘Right approvals’

Simon Earmshaw, production supply chain director for Air Products, which operates the liquid hydrogen station, said: “Hydrogen is as safe as any other fuel, but of course it comes with all the benefits of being clean.

“What’s exciting here, [is] this will be the largest refuelling station operating the largest bus fleet in Europe, once we get fully running.”

Clare Jackson, chief executive of Hydrogen UK, the trade body for hydrogen fuel, said: “Hydrogen is still an emerging solution which means that many planning and permitting authorities are still going to be getting up to speed with the technology.

“Sometimes this can mean it’s slow getting the right approvals.”

Extracted in full from:  https://ca.news.yahoo.com/safety-concerns-over-fuel-hydrogen-164905434.html?guccounter=1