North Devon Gives Green Light For 50MW PV Plant
Bristol-based Aura Power has received unanimous approval from North Devon Council’s planning committee for the almost 50MW Litchardon Cross solar farm near Barnstaple in south-west England.
Aura Power expects construction of Litchardon Cross to start at the earliest in Spring 2022 and will notify the local community as its plans progress.
The company said that once built, the project is expected to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 12,700 typical homes a year and save an estimated 15,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
The project site also includes a suite of ecological and biodiversity enhancements including areas of wildflower meadows, new tree belts and hedgerows which will deliver a net biodiversity gain of 26% for habitat and 15% for hedgerows.
The low-grade land is currently only good for pasture and will stay in agricultural use, with sheep grazing continuing around and beneath the panels.
Aura Power UK development manager Chris Featonby said: “We are very pleased that the Planning Committee unanimously voted to support our proposals which will help to tackle not only the climate emergency but also the Ecological Emergency, and help North Devon to achieve its Net Zero carbon targets.
“We’d like to thank the council officers, councillors and statutory consultees for all the hard work they put into considering our plans.
“We look forward to working with the parish councils on ensuring the community benefit fund from the solar farm delivers long-lasting local benefits and educational opportunities for nearby schools.
“Agriculture is very important in this part of the world, and the solar farm will also enable the two families who have farmed this land for many generations to diversify and secure their farming future.”
Aura will also be setting up a Community Benefit Fund of £350 per MW, index-linked, per year, for the lifetime of the solar farm.
This could amount to £17,500 a year for 35 years or over £612,000 in total.
A total of £2,000 a year would be set aside for educational sessions with local schools and site visits to the solar farm, with the remainder being shared between the local host and neighbouring parishes and used for social and environmental community projects.