49.9MW Hawthorn Pit solar farm approved on appeal

Hawthorn Pit solar farm will provide enough clean electricity to power over 17,000 homes each year, saving around 15,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, compared with electricity produced by gas.

Having been initially rejected, planning approval for the solar farm was granted on appeal.

The decision recognises that “the scheme includes substantive planting in the form of trees and hedgerows… Such works are incorporated within a Biodiversity Management Plan” and are calculated to deliver a significant Biodiversity Net Gain of 124% for habitats and 135% for hedgerows.

The Planning Inspectorate concluded “On balance the scheme would leave a landscape with enhanced biodiversity and ecology consistent with the objectives of development plan policy, in particular Policy 33 of the CDP [County Durham Plan]. In these circumstances, whilst there would be some localised harm to landscape character in conflict with the relevant development plan policies, the imperative to tackle climate change, as recognised in legislation and energy policy, and the very significant benefits of the scheme clearly and decisively outweigh the harm I have identified.”

Simon Couslon, CEO of Aura Power said “We are really pleased the Planning Inspectorate decided to allow our appeal, recognising the significant benefits that this development will bring. Durham County Council has declared a Climate Emergency pledging to reduce carbon emissions by 60% by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050. This solar farm and others will contribute towards reaching this goal. We will continue to work with the local community and are looking forward to firming up the administration of the community benefit fund.”

Aura Power offers a community benefit fund across all of their UK solar projects. Their community benefit fund is designed to support local social, educational and environmental projects in the local community.

Construction start dates have yet to be set but the local community will be notified in advance when dates have been confirmed.

Hawthorn Pit solar farm is part of a further c.120 MW of Aura Power’s solar proposals currently awaiting planning decisions in various locations across the UK.

In the past year Aura Power have gained planning approval for 440 MW of solar and battery storage projects in the UK alone.

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