Planning permission has been granted for one of the largest solar farm constructions in the Yorkshire region which could power up to 15,000 homes, thanks to the work of rural surveyors GSC Grays.
South Lowfield solar farm in Kirkby Fleetham, North Yorkshire, will see 200 acres of farmland converted to solar energy production and plug straight into the local energy grid. The solar farm will be funded and operated by Lightsource BP. The approved design means the farmland can be retained for light agricultural use for the duration of the solar farm and then returned to full agricultural use – securing the land for the farmer and future generations of their family.
Permission was granted after a thorough consultation which evaluated the impact on access routes, biodiversity and flood risks. The application was very well received by the local community with 18 letters of support and only 3 objections, the main concerns raised by objectors related to construction traffic which will be managed through consultation with the Council, Highways Authority and the local community.
Chris Thyer, Rural Associate Director at GSC Grays, worked closely with the owner of the land and Lightsource BP:
“This project is a fantastic example of diversification which provides clean renewable energy equivalent to taking 3,500 cars off the road each year while creating a wildflower meadow to encourage biodiversity. The land beneath the solar panels can be cut, or grazed by sheep to minimize the loss of farmland
Central to the successful application was the collaboration between the farmer, Lightsource BP and the local community. During the process public consultations and clear communication established the local benefits whilst taking care to address the concerns of nearby residents.
“Community engagement played a vital role in this project and we are delighted that the local community were overwhelmingly positive about the need to generate clean renewable electricity. Lightsource BP carefully selected this site for its proximity to the electricity grid, low grade agricultural land and the existing trees and hedges which make the solar farm very difficult to see from public roads or footpaths.”
It’s expected that work will start in early 2020 in time to start generating power in 2021. The planning permission is temporary, so when the solar panels reach the end of their life, the site must be decommissioned and the land restored back to its original condition.