£20 million solar farm set for County Durham

04-11-21 Solar panels already in place within Devon-ITV News
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Durham councillors have approved a plan to build a solar farm - minutes after rejecting another solar scheme.

Lightrock Power says the plan to build a £20m solar farm near Brafferton and Newton Aycliffe would save 12,600 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The proposals were considered by Durham County Council's planning committee straight after they rejected a solar farm plan near Sheraton village.

Both plans were to cost about £20m, with the farms to be removed after 40 years.

Senior planning officer Claire Teasdale said the Brafferton plan would provide a significant renewable energy source providing clean energy to more than 8,000 homes.

She argued harm to the local landscape's character and quality would not be substantial, with much of the 42-hectare site screened from view.

The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) objected to both schemes and cited loss of agricultural land.

The Sheraton plan attracted objections from residents and councillors who were concerned it would turn an area of beautiful countryside into an "industrial wasteland".

The Brafferton plan was far less controversial, though concerns were raised about underground piping, visual impact, glint and glare.

Chris Sowerbutts, speaking for Lightrock Power, says, "It's been a project that just clicked from the start.

"A lot of people have said today that they would support solar in the right location, and we are fortunate here that we have found such a location, as evidenced by the lack of objectors here today.

Councillor Cathy Hunt, who had spoken against the Sheraton solar farm because of its harmful effect on the landscape, supported the Brafferton scheme.

She said: "With the benefit of a site visit, which I would recommend to all members to take on board, I do agree that this area is good".

Cllr Patricia Jopling proposed approving the Brafferton plan: "I'm really pleased because I think this is in a much better situation and this is an application I can support."

It took just 15 minutes for councillors to reach their decision, approving the plan.