Renewable energy firm Aura Power’s appeal for the construction of a 49.9 MW solar farm at Hawthorn Pit in Durham, U.K. has been approved by the Planning Inspectorate.
The company says it has received planning permission for the solar farm, which is expected to generate enough clean electricity to power more than 17,000 homes annually, resulting in a reduction of approximately 15,000 tons of carbon emissions compared to gas-produced electricity. The construction start date for the project has yet to be determined, it adds.
“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],” the appeal decision from the Planning Inspectorate, in part, concluded.
Furthermore, the decision acknowledges that the scheme incorporates substantial planting of trees and hedgerows, as outlined in a Biodiversity Management Plan. It is estimated that these efforts will lead to a significant biodiversity net gain of 124 percent for habitats and 135 percent for hedgerows.
“We are really pleased the Planning Inspectorate decided to allow our appeal, recognizing the significant benefits that this development will bring,” said Simon Couslon, CEO of Aura Power. “Durham County Council has declared a Climate Emergency pledging to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050. This solar farm and others will contribute towards reaching this goal.”
Hawthorn Pit solar farm is part of Aura Power’s wider solar proposals totaling around 120 MW, currently awaiting planning decisions in different locations throughout the U.K. The company says it is also actively working on a growing pipeline of 20 GW for solar PV and battery energy storage not only in the U.K. but also in Europe and North America.
County Durham is in northeast England.