SOLAR POWER: 216 acre station approved for Leeds site
The head of an influential panel on climate change in Leeds has hailed plans to build a gigantic new solar power station on the outskirts of Leeds, after they were approved by council decision-makers this week.
Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel approved plans put forward by Banks Renewables for a 40 megawatt capacity photociltaic park, to cover 87.7 hectares – or 216 acres – of land on a site off Barnsdale Road in Allerton Bywater.
The plans have attracted objections from some locals, who worry about the site covering a large part of the green belt, and would be too close to residential neighbourhoods.
But the chair of the Leeds City Council Climate Emergency Committee Coun Neil Walshaw (Lab), who is also a member of the plans panel, spoke enthusiastically about the plans.
He said: “This is an excellent scheme – it is an excellent use of the green belt. If we are going to develop in the green belt, this is the kind of thing we want to see.
“It will power 12,000 homes. It is an incredible and better use of a field than for it just to be a field, I think.”
“I am more than delighted to move the recommendation.”
A report by Leeds City Council planning officers stated solar panels would be arranged into rows and mounted onto steel racks, each arranged in seven areas, with an electricity collection point in each area.
Each panel will measure around 4.5 metres by 3.55 metres, while a 3.25 metre high control building would also be on the site.
Other changes listed as part of the development included improvements to the junction of Barnsdale Road, five on-site cabins for workers and lighting columns/CCTV to secure the site.
A planning officer’s report had recommended the scheme, adding: “In favour of the development, it is recommended that very significant weight should be attached to the proposal’s renewable energy generating capacity of 40MW, which would be greater than the low carbon and renewable technological contributions presently installed within the Leeds district.
“Very significant weight should also be attached to the need to increase the production of energy from renewable sources to assist in addressing, amongst other matters, Leeds’ Climate Change Emergency and contribution towards both national and international emission reduction targets in this regard.
“In this particular instance it is considered that, on balance, the benefits of the proposed development are compelling and clearly outweigh the harm by reason of inappropriateness and all other identified harm.”
Members of the panel voted in favour of the scheme.
Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter
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