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Rotherham council planning committee backs solar energy generation and storage park plans

Published on 19 May 2023

Proposals for a new renewable energy generation and storage project in South Yorkshire have won the support of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s planning committee.

Independent renewable energy firm Banks Renewables put forward plans for a new solar and battery energy park at a 116-hectare site to the west of the Todwick Road Industrial Estate in Dinnington.

The Common Farm Solar Energy Park would have an installed capacity of up to 49MW, which is enough to meet the average annual electricity requirements of up to 18,800 family homes and would displace over 11,470 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network each year.

A 50 MW battery storage facility would also link directly into the Thurcroft electricity sub-station around three kilometres to the north of the site, which will help support the long-term security of energy supplies to UK consumers.

Since launching the project last summer, Banks Renewables has carried out an extensive range of community consultation activities, answering questions from local people and gathering ideas on how the annual £50,000 package of community benefits that forms part of the project, which equates to more than £2,000,000 through its lifetime, might best be used to support local community and environmental priorities.

After the members of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s planning committee voted in favour of the scheme by a majority of eight to one, the planning application will now be referred to the Secretary of State.

The Common Farm Solar Energy Park plans also include a detailed ecology and biodiversity strategy to ensure the site delivers a net benefit in biodiversity to the local community, with the ground around and beneath the solar panels being used to create a wildflower meadow.

“We’re excited by what can be achieved here and hope to be able to move this project forward as quickly as possible”

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

Banks Renewables operates four onshore wind farms across Yorkshire, including the Penny Hill Wind Farm, which sits around three miles to the west of the Common Farm site, and is also behind proposals for a new green energy hub at the former Thorpe Marsh Power Station site near Doncaster.

Jamilah Hassan, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “Having had a recommendation for approval for our Common Farm Solar Energy Park proposals from Rotherham Council’s expert planning officers, we’re very pleased that the members of the Council’s planning committee have been minded to follow their advice.

“The response we’ve had to this project from local people over the last year has generally been very positive, and there’s been widespread recognition of the environmental, energy security and community benefits that it will bring to the local area.

“Maximising the production and storage of renewable energy from sources within the UK is a crucial part of our nation’s ongoing journey towards its Net Zero targets, especially with the current energy security and cost of living crisis in mind.

“The Common Farm Solar Energy Park would 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 forms a key part of the overall project.

“We’re excited at what can be achieved here and hope to be able to move this project forward as quickly as possible.”

Full details of the proposed development can be found at www.banksgroup.co.uk/commonfarm, while members of the project team can be contacted with any queries about the proposals via commonfarm@banksgroup.co.uk

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