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Environmental charity campaigner backs South Yorkshire Solar Energy Park plans

Published on 13 Oct 2022

“We need to be acting to decarbonise our energy supply as swiftly as possible, which requires us to generate as much of the energy we use as we can via domestic renewable means.”

A local South Yorkshire resident, business owner and environmental campaigner has backed plans for a new renewable energy generation and storage project to the east of Sheffield.

Independent renewable energy firm Banks Renewables is looking to create a new solar energy park at a 116-hectare site to the west of the Todwick Road Industrial Estate in Dinnington, around three miles to the east of its Penny Hill Wind Farm, and recently submitted a planning application for the scheme to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.

The Common Farm Solar project, which would produce enough clean green electricity to meet the annual requirements of up to 18,800 family homes and so displace over 11,470 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network each year, has now won the support of Dinnington resident Dean Fielding, who is a trustee of national environmental charity Zero Carbon World.

The Trust has donated more than 700 electric car charging points to a range of businesses and organisations across England and Wales over the last decade as a way of encouraging them and their visitors and customers to adopt more environmentally responsible ways of working and living.

And as well as recognising the benefits of generating more indigenous renewable energy, Dean is also highlighting the biodiversity enhancements that the project will support.

A detailed ecology and biodiversity strategy will ensure the site delivers a net gain in environmental benefits for the local community forms part of the scheme, with the ground around and beneath the solar panels being used to create a species-rich grassland.

There will be increased planting of hedgerows, while part of the site will also be managed to encouraged Lapwings to thrive.

Dean Fielding says: “Dinnington is an up-and-coming area, and we’re seeing lots of new homes being built, as well as lots of new businesses looking to grow, in need of cheaper energy.

“They all obviously need significant amounts of cheaper energy, but at the same time, we need to be acting to decarbonise our energy supply as swiftly as possible, which requires us to generate as much of the energy we use as we can via domestic renewable means.

“Not only do schemes like Common Farm provide the cheapest, cleanest and fastest deployed means of generating the energy we need, they also reduce the amount of gas we need to use, cut related carbon emissions, deliver direct investments in local communities and sustain local jobs during their construction.

“From a wider environmental point of view, the positive biodiversity benefits that would arise at Common Farm would help to improve an area of land which currently has little to offer from this perspective.

“The Common Farm solar scheme has a great deal to recommend it and I’d very much hope to see it being built in the near future.”

As part of Banks’ policy of delivering tangible benefits to the places in which its operations are based, the Common Farm Solar Energy Park would also deliver an annual package of community benefits totalling £50,000 or more than £2,000,000 through its lifetime to support local community projects.

Lewis Stokes, senior community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “We’re very grateful to Dean for his support for the Common Farm Solar Energy Park, as well as to all the other local people and community leaders who’ve responded positively to our ideas.

“Maximising the production of renewable energy from domestic sources is a crucial part of the UK’s ongoing journey towards its Net Zero targets, especially within the current energy security climate.

“The Common Farm solar and battery storage project will extend the contribution that we’re able to make locally towards reaching these goals while also increasing the tangible benefits that we can deliver to local communities through the benefits package that will form a key part of the project.

“The biodiversity enhancements that form part of this project will also deliver significant improvements to the local area and will widen the positive environmental impact that it will make.”

Banks Renewables’ planning application is expected to come before Rotherham Council’s planning committee before the end of the year.