One of the real problems with solar farms in my book, windfarms too, is that they don’t supply power locally but plug into the national grid. That destroys the link between locality and renewable energy. That’s one reason why a solar farm proposed at Acton Scott was thrown out by the South Planning Committee earlier this week. It didn’t supply electricity locally, so why did it need to be in the AONB where the landscape has the highest levels of protection?
What I like about the proposal for a solar farm at Bromfield is that up to a quarter of its power will be used in the local quarry and the Ludlow Food Centre. It is also on old quarry land and on a site that can only be seen from the railway. It’s not in the AONB or visible from it. That’s why I am backing this proposal while I was resolutely against the plans for a solar farm at Acton Scott.
Sovereign Energy Partners are planning 5.57MW solar farm between Bromfield Sand and Gravel and the railway. The site has previously been worked for gravel extraction. It will be dismantled after 25 years.
The arrays are expected to generate 4,32MWh a year, enough to power 1,308 typical homes and save 2,500,000 kg of CO² emissions annually. Up to a quarter of the power generated (20-25%) will be used by either the Bromfield Sand and Gravel or the Ludlow Food Centre through private wires, largely removing these two businesses from the grid in daylight hours. The rest will be supplied to the local 33KV power grid
The applicant is offering community benefit payment of £5,000 a year for 10 years.
Sovereign Energy say site construction is expected to commence during April 2015 and be completed by the end of May 2015 (that’s really optimistic given the time it takes to process planning applications in Shropshire).
The existing grassland on the site is species poor. The biodiversity management plan suggests the site should be seeded with a mixture suitable for neutral meadow grassland, with a high proportion of legumes including red and white clover. hop trefoil, bird’s foot trefoil and meadow vetchling. The site will then be grazed by sheep.
I am not proposing to call this application in to be considered by the South Planning Committee. So unless Bromfield parish council object the decision will be made by planning officers under delegated powers. The planning reference is 15/00284/FUL.