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Lincolnshire solar park granted consent

Words: Laura Edgar
Solar Panels / iStock: 895028314

Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has granted a development consent order (DCO) for Little Crow Solar Park in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.

The consent was granted in line with a recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate, the examining authority.

The solar park will be delivered on a site amounting to 226 hectares, most of which is agricultural land, located east of the British Steel site and north-west of the village of Broughton. Mixed deciduous and coniferous woodland lies to the north and east of the site, as well as some woodland to the south, which provides separation between the solar park and Broughton’s residential area.

Consent was sought for the construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of Little Crow Solar Park. It will have a gross electrical output capacity of over 50 megawatts.

Consent was also sought for associated development, including an electrical storage facility with a capacity of up to 90MW, as well as connection infrastructure. It will have an operational life of 35 years.

According to the decision letter, the examining authority considered that the solar would be “broadly consistent’ with the objectives in Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (NPS EN-1) and National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy (NPS EN-3) for generating electricity. It believes it is also “generally compliant” with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), in particular part 14, which addresses meeting the challenge of climate change. Kwarteng agreed.

The examining authority also considered local policies set out by North Lincolnshire Council and its local impact report. The council would prefer a brownfield site for the solar park, but confirmed that there is not a suitable one available because of the development’s size. The council acknowledged some conflict with its policies but that the solar park would increase the use of renewable energy, which is supported by policy CS2.

Beyond the limits of the DCO, the examining authority considered that there would be “no significant landscape effects” during the construction, operation and decommissioning of the solar park. However, it considered there would be “an adverse effect” for users of a footpath that crosses the order limits. “In the absence of evidence noting the number of users of the footpath, or submissions during the examination in relation to this footpath, the examining authority considered visual harm for all phases of the proposed development would be outweighed by the benefits associated with the generation of electricity from a renewable source”.

The examining authority and secretary of state agreed that the development would have a neutral effect on the historic environment; that effects on ecology would be neutral in the planning balance; effects resulting from traffic, transport and noise would be neutral in the planning balance; and air quality was neutral in the planning balance.

They also agreed that socio-economic effects weighed moderately for the development in the planning balance.

The decision letter states: “The secretary of state has considered all the merits and disbenefits of the proposed development, and concluded that, on balance, its benefits outweigh its negative impacts.” Kwarteng granted the DCO.

The decision letter and all other documents can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.

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