Saturday, March 2, 2024

South Ockendon solar farm gets the green light

A SOLAR farm which could power more than 16,000 homes could get the go ahead.

Rows of solar panels on 212 acres of green belt land off Fen Lane and Medebridge Road South Ockendon have been recommended for approval.

The panels, which will tae six months to install, will be connected to an underground cable providing a grid connection to the Warley National Grid Substation at North Ockendon.

They would be set out in east to west rows with a maximum height of 3metres, with the panels facing south.

If approved, the solar farm proposed by Medebridge Solar Ltd, would supply up to 49.9MW to the National Grid, which is the equivalent of the annual electrical needs of approximately 16,100 family homes.

The site, on farmland, would be operational for 40 years after which it would be decommissioned and the land would then be restored to agricultural use.

In 2018 permission was granted for a solar farm development to the south of the site. A similar solar farm to the east of the site was approved last year.

In a report to Thurrock Council’s planning committee, planning officers said: “The proposals would comprise inappropriate development in the green belt. Furthermore, the proposed development would lead to a loss of openness and would, to a degree, be harmful to land within the green belt.”

However, they add: “The applicant has cited a number of factors which are promoted as clearly outweighing harm to comprise very special circumstances needed to justify inappropriate development.

It is considered that significant weight should be attached to the benefits of providing renewable energy, including the reduction in carbon emissions.

“The temporary nature of the development attracts some weight and weight can also be attached to the economic, social and environmental benefits of the proposals. On balance it is concluded on this point that the benefits of the proposals clearly outweigh the substantial harm to the green belt, and therefore a departure from normal green belt policies is justified.”

Three objections were submitted to the council, including the effect on public rights of way, loss of wildlife, and detrimental visual impact.

The planning committee will consider the application on Thursday, April 21.

If approved it will be referred to the Secretary of State for a final decision.


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