Plan approved to convert farmland into huge solar farm

Permission has been approved for one of the largest solar farm constructions in Yorkshire.

The move, which will convert 200 acres of farmland in Kirkby Fleetham, North Yorkshire, could power up to 15,000 homes.

It also means the farmland can be retained for light agricultural use for the duration of the solar farm and then returned to full agricultural use.

Permission was granted after a consultation which evaluated the impact on access routes, biodiversity and flood risks.

Overall, the application was well received by the local community with 18 letters of support and three objections.

The main concerns raised by objectors related to construction traffic. However, this will be managed through consultation with the council, Highways Authority and the local community.

Rural surveyors GSC Grays worked with the owner of the land and solar farm operator Lightsource BP.

Chris Thyer, rural associate director at the surveyors, said the project is a 'fantastic example' of diversification within the farming industry.

“[It will] provide 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,” he said.

Central to the successful application was the collaboration between the farmer, Lightsource BP and the local community.

During the process public consultations established the local benefits whilst taking care to address the concerns of nearby residents.

Mr Thyer said: “Community engagement played a vital role in this project and we are delighted that the local community were positive about the need to generate clean renewable electricity.

“Lightsource BP 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 is expected that work will start in early 2020 in time to start generating power in 2021.

Source: Farming UK