Wednesday, June 21, 2023

News: £60m Rotherham solar farm gets go ahead


Plans for a £60m solar farm in Rotherham, which includes thousands of solar panels installed on green belt land, have been granted planning permission after the Secretary of State decided not to intervene.

Rothbiz reported last year that independent renewable energy firm Banks Renewables had submitted a planning application for a new solar energy park on a 116-hectare piece of agricultural land to the west of the Todwick Road Industrial Estate in Dinnington, around three miles east of Banks’ Penny Hill wind farm at Ulley.

The plans went before the planning board at Rotherham Council last month, with members voting in favour of the scheme after being recommended to give them the green light.

The Common Farm Solar project would have an installed capacity of up to 50MW. This compares to the capacity of up to 20MW at Penny Hill Wind Farm and 44MW at the Templeborough Biomass power station.

Planning permission is for a period of 40 years. The construction period is an estimated 6-9 months.

Developers need to demonstrate very special circumstances for using the green belt land and council planners confirmed that "the benefits of renewable energy raise substantial benefits in favour of the proposal" and environmantal, economic and social benefits amount to a total investment of approximately £61.2m over its lifetime, plus an annual package of community benefits totalling £50,000 a year.

Because of the use of green belt land, the plans were referred to the Secretary of State to decide if they required further scrutiny. The Secretary of State has now written to the council to say that the government has decided not to call the application, content that it should be determined by the local planning authority.

Jamilah Hassan, community relations manager at The Banks Group, said: “Having had a recommendation for approval for our Common Farm Solar Energy Park proposals from Rotherham Council’s expert planning officers, we’re very pleased that the members of the Council’s planning committee have been minded to follow their advice.

“The response we’ve had to this project from local people over the last year has generally been very positive, and there’s been widespread recognition of the environmental, energy security and community benefits that it will bring to the local area.

“Maximising the production and storage of renewable energy from sources within the UK is a crucial part of our nation’s ongoing journey towards its Net Zero targets, especially with the current energy security and cost of living crisis in mind.

“The Common Farm Solar Energy Park would extend the contribution that we’re able to make locally towards reaching these goals while also increasing the tangible benefits that we can deliver to local communities through the benefits package that forms a key part of the overall project.

“We’re excited at what can be achieved here and hope to be able to move this project forward as quickly as possible.”

Banks Group website

Images: Banks Group


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