A typical off-grid housing development.
Ian Digby, specifier sales manager at Calor, explains: “LPG has established itself as the lowest carbon-emitting fossil fuel available in the off-grid market and offers many benefits to developers bringing forward new housing schemes in rural locations, where no viable connection to mains gas is possible.
“LPG provides the nearest alternative to mains gas but many key stakeholders in the housebuilding sector may not be familiar with the specific requirements of Liquid Gas (Previously UKLPG) Codes of Practice (produced in conjunction with the HSE) which all reputable LPG suppliers will follow. This is to ensure the LPG tanks can be stored safely on site and provide a consistent supply to all residents.
“A typical off-grid housing development of 30 plots will require 3 x 4000l underground LPG tanks to supply all properties. This will require an open area measuring 7m x 11.2m.
“Ideally, a space in a corner of the site would be best as this would avoid breaking up any open public areas. In addition, bearing in mind that the tanks take up to 1-2 hours to refill every 6-8 weeks in winter, the LPG tanker is less likely to cause an inconvenience for residents.
“However, tanks can be installed in any open space that is not subject to a section 106 agreement, depending on the constraints of the site.”
Mr Digby continues: “Calor’s preference is that all underground LPG tanks are installed in a semi-mounded fashion – this is to say the top of the tank is between 250mm & 500mm higher than natural ground level and a gentle slopping mound is landscaped over the remainder of the tank. This is to reduce the risk of the gas regulators, which are located in the locked turret on the top of the tank, being subject to any rising ground water issues caused by a low water table.
“This also helps to ensure that heavy periods of rain will not affect their operation. With careful landscaping by the ground workers on site, this can be achieved successfully without affecting the overall aesthetics of the installation.
“Once installed and landscaped, the exclusion or safety area around the LPG tanks should be clearly demarcated to separate this from the wider open space. This can normally be achieved by the installation of a knee rail fence around the boundary of the area, though it is also perfectly acceptable to use large wooden posts or substantial boulders or rocks to achieve this effect.
“Ideally the area inside the safety zone should be finished with a layer of gravel or bark, but it may be possible to use a different finish of turf to demarcate the space.
“A suitable gap must also be left to allow access by the LPG company’s employees for refilling and maintenance purposes. A small warning sign to alert people to the presence of LPG on site should be installed in a visible location.
“Of course, safety is paramount. Although LPG is a hazardous substance, it presents no more of a risk than mains gas if it is installed and handled correctly.”