Solar energy farm could be developed near Redcar – Darlington and Stockton Times

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Darlington 16°c
DISCUSSIONS have begun over a potential 75 hectare solar farm to be sited near Redcar.
EDF Renewables is considering land near to Yearby village, south of Redcar, for the development and has approached Redcar and Cleveland Council for a so-called ‘screening opinion’.
The aim at this stage is to determine whether or not an environmental impact assessment will be required should the plans be progressed.
This will depend on whether the project is considered to likely give rise to significant effects on the environment.
A report by consultants Arcus, acting as an agent on behalf of EDF Renewables, said the proposed site was predominantly agricultural land, but also featured a listed building, Turner’s Arms Farmhouse, and some residential properties.
It said the farm would feature ground mounted, three metre high solar photovoltaic panels and could generate up to 49.9 megawatts of electricity by converting the sun’s rays.
The report described the planned development as having a low visual impact on the surrounding landscape and said it would be temporary, and due to be decommissioned after 30 years.
Mitigation measures would be embedded into the overall design, such as vegetation screening to reduce the magnitude of visual effects.
Additional elements would include security fencing and CCTV cameras mounted on wooden poles.
While some agricultural land would be taken out of crop production, once operational the site could be used as “dual purpose” with solar panels and sheep grazing, allowing some agricultural activity to continue. 
The report also said low levels of noise could be generated by electrical systems associated with the solar development, but these were not expected to be audible.
It said: “Solar panels only generate maximum electricity during daylight hours, and therefore there is negligible noise generated in the evening, night and early morning, when ambient noise levels are typically at their lowest.”
Explaining the process being undertaken, a spokeswoman for Redcar and Cleveland Council said: “We can make one of two decisions, the first is that the development will not result in significant environmental effects and that an environmental impact assessment is not required. 
“The development will still require an application supported by appropriate technical information, but will just proceed through the ‘normal’ planning process. 
“If we decide an environmental impact assessment is required, the application will be required to be supported by a more comprehensive environmental statement and follow a slightly different decision making process under the environmental impact assessment regulations.
“The applicant has invited the council to agree with their conclusion that an environmental impact assessment is not required and this is under consideration.”
EDF Renewables, part of EDF Energy, has been contacted for comment.
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