We have recently helped secure planning permission for a 30-acre solar farm near Wigan on land owned by Lancashire Wildlife Trust.
Owen Pike, associate partner in our planning department acted as consultant on behalf of Solstice Renewables, an award-winning independent solar farm developer, on the Cleworth Hall Farm Solar Park located in the Greater Manchester Green Belt. Planning permission was granted in February 2016.
As part of the coordination of activity to prepare, submit and negotiate the proposal, we devised a planning strategy for obtaining permission as swiftly as possible, attended councillor briefings and prepared a request for an EIA screening option.
Owen commented: “I’m delighted that we were able to assist Solstice Renewables in the granting of planning permission for Cleworth Hall Farm Solar Park. The project was a complex one, requiring positive engagement with local politicians and ensuring plans didn’t interfere with great crested newts – a European protected species.
“This is the 10th time we’ve worked with Solstice Renewables and I look forward to working with them again in the future to bring more solar parks to the UK.”
Working with the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, we were able to demonstrate that the proposals were compatible with the ongoing protection of the newts. This was also important to Solstice Renewables, which prioritises biodiversity and ecological enhancement at all its solar farms.
Giovanni Maruca, director at Solstice Renewables commented: “Overall we’ve had an excellent experience with Sanderson Weatherall. In the last two years, planning approval for solar farms has become increasingly difficult due to a change in political climate. Sanderson Weatherall was exceptional at working with a challenging and complex case and ensuring we got a positive result that will be beneficial for the local community and the Wildlife Trust.”
Solstice Renewables was established in 2013 and has developed ten solar farms totalling 88 MegaWatts (MW) capacity – enough renewable electricity to power 26,000 typical homes.
Owen added: “The granting of permission to develop the solar farm is especially positive given the policy and political climate has strengthened against renewable energy development as illustrated by the fact that out of eight appeal decisions relating to Green Belt solar parks between October 2015 and February 2016 all have been dismissed.”