Supersize solar farm plans for Wakefield district move forward

Ambitions to build huge solar farms that could help power council homes could go before planners before the end of the year, a leading councillor has said.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 12:30 pm

The two farms, earmarked at Ossett and South Kirkby, could produce a combined potential capacity to produce 51 MW of electricity, enough to power thousands of homes.

The council is now hoping to complete environmental impact assessments (EIAs) to determine if the farms can be built safely and without detriment to their surrounding environment.

Councillor Jack Hemingway, deputy leader of Wakefield Council and cabinet member for climate change and environment, said: "We are proceeding with the two sites but there's more detail background work that needs doing before go ahead with this.

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The farms could power thousands of homes.

"These EIAs will look at the impact and determine whether we need a full assessment.

"If we don't, then we are looking for it to go before planning before the end of the year or the start of next year. It's very important to go head because it's crucial for the council's ambitions and important for our climate programme.

"It's a large-scale project that will demonstrate that we want to be carbon neutral by 2030. It's a significant project that will have benefits for the community, and help tackle fuel poverty.

"It will mean we will meet our commitment and could make green power available for residents."

Lodge Hill Farm, just north of Ossett is one of the sites being considered with the land covering approximately 60 hectares.

The site is an operational farm that includes crop cultivation, cattle rearing and tree plantations, but is owned by Wakefield Council and leased to two tenants.

The council is wanting to place enough solar panels to produce 35.07 MW of electricity.

The council also wants to be build a 15.95 MW farm at Mutton Flats, almost a mile north of South Kirkby, and which covers around 30 hectares.

There are hopes the farms will generate enough electricity to cover 70 per cent of the council's energy needs in the future.

The scheme is expected to cost around £40m, although the local authority hopes to recoup much of that from selling off the surplus energy the farms are expected to generate from its solar panels.