Bluefield Renewable Developments has received planning permission for four new UK projects providing almost 200MW of solar capacity. The consented projects include two 49.9MW projects near Blyth and Bedlington, Northumberland on former coalfields – the first solar farms of this scale in the county; a 49.9MW farm near Witney, West Oxfordshire and a 45MW farm near Ludlow, in Shropshire. The solar farms will generate enough electricity to power over 54,000 homes whilst offsetting approximately 36,800 tonnes of CO2 per annum – an emissions saving equivalent to removing over 23,000 cars from the road. At each of the newly consented sites, over 95% of the land to be used for solar is not classified as ‘Best and Most Versatile Land’. Once constructed, Bluefield intends to graze sheep on the land, ensuring a dual use of both food and energy production. Large areas at all four sites will be designated specifically for biodiversity enhancement, benefitting from the inclusion of wildflower meadows, rich grasslands and at Tar Farm, Oxfordshire, a newly planted woodland. As part of the project at Brick House Farm, in Shropshire, Bluefield has committed to undertake a major new research project on alternative uses of land within solar farms for food production – sometimes known as ‘Agrivoltaics’.
The outcome of this research would identify potential types of food production within and around solar farms to supplement sheep grazing and complement biodiversity management. Significant community funds will also be provided for local projects in the vicinity of each solar farm, following positive engagement with parish councils and other local organisations. The Bluefield Group develops, builds and operates solar farms on behalf of the funds it advises, including the stock market-listed Bluefield Solar Income Fund (BSIF). It is envisaged that, over time, the new projects will bolster the fund’s existing portfolio of 107 solar farms in the UK, which currently have a capacity of 766MWp. Alan Connolly, Development Director with Bluefield Renewable Developments Ltd, said: “We are delighted to have secured planning permission for the new solar farms. “The positive decision reached by each of the local council planning committees is a testament both to the hard work of the Bluefield team and to the significant engagement we have undertaken with the local communities to build support for the projects.” Jonathan Selwyn, Managing Director with Bluefield Renewable Developments Ltd, added: “These projects reflect our focus on carefully chosen well-designed sites that sit well in the landscape, enhance biodiversity and avoid impacting on food security. “As the lowest cost, quickest to deploy and most popular of all energy sources, solar is already making an important contribution to addressing both the climate emergency and the cost-of-living crisis. We look forward to our projects generating significant new renewable energy capacity in support of the ambitious solar targets in the government’s Energy Security Strategy (2022).”
Credits: renews.biz [Image: Bluefield]