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Planning has begun for the UK’s largest community-owned solar farm

Planning has begun for the UK’s largest community-owned solar farm

It is designed to generate 30 MW of renewable energy, enough to power 8,400 homes. Local councilors have unanimously backed plans to build a 120-hectare community-owned solar park.

It crosses the England-Wales border on farmland at Bretton Hall Farm in Saltney, on the outskirts of Chester. Developer New Energy Wales hopes the project will be the largest community-owned solar farm in the UK.

Electricity is sold to local people

The park would be classified as a community-owned asset, with shares sold to local people and companies who would then effectively become its owners, with excess revenue funding “community benefit” projects.

As the site covers both Wales and England, two planning applications must be submitted.

It is of national importance

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee has backed the plan, the Local Democracy Report Service reported.

In Wales, the scheme is classed as a development of national importance and will be assessed by the Welsh Planning Inspectorate with input from Flintshire County Council.

The Cheshire portion of the land is nearly 60 acres and is used for sheep and goat grazing, which will continue before being cleared over 40 years.

Green energy is critical

Concerns have previously been raised about the levels of flood risk at the site, as has the development of green zone land.

But speaking at the planning meeting, committee member Miles Hogg said:

– I am an ardent defender of our precious Green Belt, so the test I always use is ‘Are there any special circumstances? I think there are in this case. The land we studied is not of high agricultural quality and green energy production is essential. JAG hopes to mitigate any green belt issues, Hogg said.

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If all goes according to plan, the target date for construction is next summer.

Source: New Energy Wales