Wildlife-Friendly Solar Project Planned for Darlington Countryside.

UK solar developer Lightrock Power are working with the RSPB to tackle energy security, climate change, and habitat loss, with their new 49MW proposal on land north of Sadberge.

Longpasture Solar Farm will cover an area of approximately 66 hectares and generate enough power to supply 14,000 homes or 17,700 electric vehicles. It could prevent 19,600 tonnes of C02 from entering the atmosphere each year.

The crisis in Ukraine has made the UK’s departure from oil and gas more urgent than ever and expanding renewable energy generation at home will enable us to take back control of our power supply.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the business, energy and industrial strategy secretary said in March “This is no longer [only] about tackling climate change or reaching net-zero targets. Ensuring the UK’s clean energy independence is a matter of national security. Putin can set the price of gas, but he can’t directly control the price of renewables and nuclear we generate in the UK”

Boris Johnson spoke of the government’s new Energy Security Strategy: “We will do more to exploit the potential of solar power. Even in this country solar power is remarkably cheap and effective”. There is to be a predicted five-fold increases in solar deployment by 2035.

Lightrock Power works closely with the RSPB to ensure that all their projects create the best possible habitat for wildlife. Measures such as incorporating mammal gates into the site’s fencing, and creation of new wildlife corridors will allow a diverse range of species to thrive.

Chris Sowerbutts, co-founder of Lightrock Power said “This is an excellent site for solar; it gets lots of sunshine, is well screened, and has good access. We’re also really pleased that we can connect to the local electricity network on site, meaning minimum disruption to the local community.”

“We are pleased to be able to provide a community benefit endowment to the value of £100,000 which will continue to run well after our solar panels have been recycled. Grants can be applied for through the County Durham Community Foundation once the site is operational”

Lightrock Power has now written to residents inviting them to find out more about the project and provide feedback. The early community consultation runs from 6th June 2022 to 4th July 2022. An online exhibition detailing the plans is available at www.longpasturesolarfarm.com. Subject to consultation and further site assessments, the company intends to submit a planning application in the Summer.

Printed copies of all online material can be obtained by contacting Lightrock Power on 0114 2866217 or by emailing longpasture@lightrockpower.com.