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Solar farm near M6 at Lancaster gets green light

A new solar farm in fields near the M6 at Lancaster has been given the green light by councillors.

Lancaster City Council planning regulatory committee voted to grant permission for 56,000 fixed solar panels on land at Grimeshaw Lane, Quernmore, capable of powering 7,700 homes.

Planning officers had recommended the scheme be refused, due to the "large scale of the proposal", and because it would "have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the landscape and the rural character of the public right of way adjacent to the site and its enjoyment" and "an adverse impact on the setting of the Forest of Bowland AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".

But most councillors on the committee, speaking at a meeting at Morecambe Town Hall on Monday, backed the plans.

Councillor June Greenwell, from the Liberal Democrats, said: "At the moment we've got the whole world's leaders together in Egypt looking at how to deal with the threat of climate change.

"They are going to have to make extremely tough decisions. We are doing the same on a small scale here. It's so enormous a challenge and so important, that we really should be supporting this development."

Councillor Kevin Frea, of the Greens, said: "We would find it extremely difficult to meet our ambitions of decarbonisation by 2030 (if we don't approve this.)

"There are very few other alternatives for our climate emergency ambitions."

His Green colleague, Councillor Sue Tyldesley, said: "I think we have to recognise that all forms of energy generation are going to have some kind of impact on the landscape."

Councillor Keith Budden, Conservative, said he would support the plans because the scheme, brought by energy company Opendenergy UK, was "a great business opportunity".

But Councillor Robert Redfern, from Labour, said the plans should be turned down, because it would send a message to the developers to "come back with a better plan".

Councillor Roger Dennison, of the Morecambe Bay Independents, agreed, saying they should take the "professional advice" of the council officers.

But Councillor Redfern's motion, to refuse the plans, was defeated by a vote - nine (councillors Frea, Greenwell, Brookes, Lenox, Budden, Thornberry, Cleet, King and Tyldesley) to five (councillors Redfern, Thomas, Bryning, Dennison and Guilding).

A separate motion, to approve the plans, was then brought by Councillor Frea.

Eleven councillors (Frea, Greenwell, Brookes, Lenox, Thomas, Budden, Thornberry, Cleet, King, Bryning and Tyldesley) voted in favour, so the plans were approved by a majority.

Councillors Guilding and Redfern voted against, and Councillor Dennison abstained.

The planned solar farm would include substations, inverter stations, a control room, CCTV, lighting, a perimeter fence and all associated works

It would be built on 28 hectares of agricultural land east of the M6 motorway, just to the south of junction 34.

The solar farm would be capable of generating up to 28MW of power, which is the equivalent of supplying 7700 homes, and would save 1,150,000 tonnes of CO2 over 30 years of operation.

The panels would have a maximum height of 2.35 metres, with the lower edge around 0.4 metres from the ground and there would be a minimum separation of 3.4 metres between the rows.

Verdict due on new Lancaster solar farm capable of powering 7,700 homes - Beyond Radio

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