Huge new Shropshire solar farm could provide energy for 9,000 homes

A huge new solar farm – generating enough energy to power 9,000 homes a year – could be built in the north Shropshire countryside.

The application will be considered by Shropshire Council.
The application will be considered by Shropshire Council.

Plans have been drawn up for a 30 megawatt (MW) array of solar panels on a 150-acre site at Bubney Farm, to the west of Whitchurch.

If Shropshire Council planners grant approval for the scheme, construction will take around six months and the panels will be in place for around 40 years.

The applicant, Renewable Connections Developments Ltd, says it will prevent around 12,900 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere every year.

It is proposed to connect the farm to the National Grid via the existing substation on the A41.

A planning statement submitted in support of the application says: “The proposal would provide a clean, renewable and sustainable form of electricity.

“It would make a valuable contribution to the generation of electricity at a local level.

“The scheme would make a meaningful contribution to the council’s 2030 carbon-neutral target. It would also assist in meeting national targets.”

The site lies 320 metres from a section of the Llangollen Canal, and 50 metres from Iscoyd Park, which is designated as a Registered Park and Garden (RPG) and a Special Landscape Area (SLA).

Existing woodland and the topography of the farmland mean the panels would be largely screened from view, but would be visible from some areas on the canal towpath, Iscoyd Park grounds, passing roads and the bridleway and footpaths which cross the site.

The statement says the scheme “presents considerable opportunity for landscape and biodiversity mitigation and enhancement”, including tree planting and the creation of new habitat.

It adds: “After the 40-year operational period, the solar farm would be decommissioned.

“When the proposed solar farm is decommissioned, the solar panels and other infrastructure will be removed and the site restored.

“Due to the limited quantity of foundations, hard surfacing and heavy infrastructure, combined with the fact that the majority of the site will be retained as grassland, the land will be easier to restore than more intrusive development with more significant foundations.”

The statement concludes: “The selected site is appropriate in that it can accommodate the proposed solar park without significantly affecting the landscape character of the wider countryside or the amenities of residents in the vicinity.

“The temporary and reversible nature of the development, together with the measures that are to be taken to enhance and encourage the ecological diversity of the site, will ensure that in the long term the site can not only be restored to its current use, but will also have been improved.

“The wider environmental benefits and sustainability credentials associated with the increased production of energy from renewable sources represents a significant case in favour of the development proposals.

“These factors, when combined with the significant need for renewable energy, mean that the planning balance… is weighted significantly in favour of the proposed development.

“Overall, the proposals are entirely suitable to the site and its surrounds, consistent with planning policy and all relevant material planning considerations, and will achieve a high-quality design as envisaged by the applicant and as required by the local planning authority.”

The planning application will be decided by Shropshire Council.

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