Giant solar farm approved for Chelmsford

A solar farm big enough to power more than 8,000 homes has been given the go ahead for Chelmsford by planners.

The 35 hectare site – effectively split into two distinct parcels of land either side of the quarry complex to the north of Main Road in Danbury – will generate approximately 25 megawatts of clean renewable electricity to power the equivalent of 8,307 homes.

Chelmsford City Council’s approval for the project comes with several conditions – including that at the end of a 40-year-long lifespan, the development shall be removed and the land restored to its previous agricultural use.

Additionally, if the solar farm ceases to export electricity to the grid for twelve months, the solar farm has to be removed.

Prior to their installation, details of boundary treatment and CCTV cameras shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

Danbury Parish Council had strongly objected to the proposal which it said would introduce an “industrialised aspect to a gateway village”.

But the council has said there is a “recognised need” and support for renewable energy technology and this development would contribute towards the targets set for the UK’s greenhouse gas emission reduction and increasing the country’s energy supply for renewable sources.

The council has admitted the scheme would harm the character and appearance of the local area but this impact would be local and would also be largely reversible.

It adds: “The harm to the character and appearance of the area can be mitigated through a comprehensive landscape mitigation scheme that proposes substantial planting and biodiversity improvements.

“The proposal would have a low level of less than substantial harm on heritage assets, but this can also be mitigated through the landscape mitigation scheme.

“The proposal would not have a harmful adverse impact on, ecology, residential amenity, highway safety or flood risk, subject to the controls recommended by planning conditions.

“The main benefit arising of the scheme is contribution to the production of renewable energy and consequential reduction in CO2 emissions. These benefits are afforded substantial and considerable weight.

“On the basis that the proposal would not lead to significant and adverse harm, and the effects on landscape character and heritage are relatively minor, it is concluded that the proposal is acceptable and complies with the development plan and national and local planning guidance.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter