Plans for an important new renewable energy scheme to the south east of Leeds are set to be revealed.

Independent renewable energy firm Banks Renewables is developing a planning application for a new solar energy park which will have an installed capacity of approximately 40MW, which would be enough to meet the annual energy requirements of up to 12,000 family homes and would displace over 9,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network each year.

The new Barnsdale scheme would include solar panels and battery storage covering an area of around 50 hectares of south-facing agricultural land between Kippax and Allerton Bywater, around three miles from the nearby Hook Moor wind farm which Banks Renewables owns and operates, and will link directly into the Ledston Primary electricity sub-station situated along Barnsdale Road, to the south east of the site.

As part of the company’s policy of delivering tangible benefits to the locations in which its operations are based, around £25,000 of the revenues generated by the scheme would be directed every year into a benefits fund that would provide funding for local charities, community groups and good causes.

A detailed ecology and biodiversity strategy is also being developed to ensure the site delivers a net benefit in biodiversity including supporting and enhancing the Leeds Habitat Network along the Sheffield Beck which runs through the site.

Banks Renewables is expecting to submit a planning application to Leeds City Council for the new scheme before the end of the year, with a view to it being determined in the first quarter of 2021.

A leaflet containing comprehensive information on the project is being delivered to around 2,900 local homes this week, while a dedicated project website has also been set up to ensure information on the scheme is easily available.

The Hook Moor Wind Farm generated around 25,350 MWh of green electricity in the last year, which is enough to meet the annual energy requirements of more than 7,500 homes, and by doing so, it displaced well over 6,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network.

The wind farm’s community benefits fund has also supported a wide range of community projects since it began generating electricity in 2016, with over £50,000 going into the fund so far.

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the County Durham-headquartered Banks Group, says: “The UK has set itself ambitious targets for renewable energy generation which require new infrastructure and generating facilities to be developed in appropriate locations.

“The project is located is an area that we know very well, and having conducted a detailed search, this site was identified as providing the best opportunity to create a solar park that links directly into the adjacent electricity substation.

“We will look to work closely with local parish councils and other community representatives to ensure we develop a comprehensive and detailed planning application, with particular reference to the planned ecological and biodiversity enhancements meeting specific local priorities.

“The benefits fund will also extend the contribution we’ve made to enhancing local communities in recent years and we hope that Leeds City Council’s planning committee will support the vision we’re developing for this important project.”

Full details of the proposed Barnsdale solar park development can be found at www.banksgroup.co.uk/barnsdalesolar while members of the project team can be contacted with any queries about the proposals via barnsdale@banksgroup.co.uk

Banks Renewables is one of the leading independent owner/operators in the UK’s onshore wind sector and currently operates ten wind farms with an installed capacity of 224MW.

As well as the Hook Moor scheme, the business has three further wind farms in Yorkshire – the six-turbine Penny Hill wind farm, which is located to the south east of Rotherham, the four-turbine Marr scheme, which sits to the west of Doncaster, close to junction 37 of the A1(M), and the five-turbine Hook Moor wind farm, which lies to the east of Leeds near the junction of the M1 and A1.