Severn Trent Green Power had applied to install a lightning protection mast at its plant near Cassington prior to the explosion on Monday night.

A huge fire broke out at the processing facility at around 7.20pm after lightning struck a digester tank and ignited the biogas inside.

It came just eight months after the company received permission from Cherwell District Council to install a 22m high metal column which was intended to divert lightning strikes away from the plant.

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Mystery surrounds whether it was ever installed as the company did not immediately respond to comment.

Cotswold Journal: Yarnton councillor Ian MiddletonYarnton councillor Ian Middleton (Image: Contributed)

Yarnton parish councillor Ian Middleton said he had spoken on Tuesday to an operations manager from the company, who it was hoped would meet with the parish council in due course and offer reassurances about the safety of the plant.

He said he would be more concerned about public safety if the plant was closer to homes.

“In terms of them [the anaerobic digestors] being very close to residential areas, I would have some worries,” he said. “But I think the location of the one at Worton is not a big concern.”

He added that green bin collections are not expected to be affected.

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The Green councillor said he had not initially noticed the explosion on Monday night.

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“We looked out the window and saw a very orange glow in the sky. It was around about sunset time, so we thought ‘that’s a nice sunset’ and went outside to have a look,” he said.

“By the time we got outside, it was gone. Then I started to get all the notifications saying there has been a huge explosion and flames shooting up in the sky.

“We contacted the emergency services and waited to see what had happened. I didn’t think it was one of those situations where they wanted to have councillors appearing [at the scene].”

Other councillors and politicians praised the reaction of emergency services to the incident.

Cotswold Journal: Cllr Liz Leffman said she heard the explosion in CharlburyCllr Liz Leffman said she heard the explosion in Charlbury (Image: Oxfordshire County Council)

Cllr Liz Leffman, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Top marks to the emergency services for being on the scene so quick.

“I live in Charlbury and I heard it. I thought it was a thunder cloud and the lights went on and off. It must have been very distressing for those who were nearby.

“I don’t think they should be concerned about safety. It was just one of those freak events.”

Cotswold Journal: Layla Moran said it was an extremely distressing incidentLayla Moran said it was an extremely distressing incident (Image: Layla Moran)

The plant falls in the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency of MP Layla Moran, who said: “This was an extremely distressing incident for residents in the surrounding area. I am incredibly glad that no one was injured.

“I want to extend huge thanks to our amazing emergency workers for all they have done to contain the fire and keep local residents safe.”